Thursday, September 08, 2016

NJ AG Pinches Two, Seeks Another For Allegedly Running Elaborate Mortgage Fraud Racket That Used Stolen Or Fictitious I.D.s To Create All Hallmarks, Fill All Required Roles Of Legit Residential Loan Transaction; Property Used As Collateral To Fleece Banks Out Of $930K+ Are Owned By Unwitting Homeowners Who Played No Role In Scam

From the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General:
  • Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a man and a woman were arrested [] on first-degree charges for allegedly carrying out an elaborate identity theft and mortgage fraud scheme in which they stole nearly $1 million from various lenders. Another man who allegedly participated in the criminal scheme is being sought as a fugitive.

    These two defendants were arrested [] on charges of first-degree money laundering, first-degree conspiracy, second-degree identity theft and second-degree theft by deception:

    Artis Hunter, 49, of Union Township, N.J., the alleged ringleader, and
    Melissa Phillip, 41, of West Orange, N.J.

    The third defendant, Laquan Jones, 42, of Newark, N.J., is being sought on an arrest warrant on the same charges. Bail has been set at $500,000 for Hunter, and $250,000 for Phillip. Investigators executed search warrants at Hunter’s home in Union and a second home in Hillside, N.J., seizing computers, phones, additional electronic equipment, documents and other potential evidence.
    The defendants and additional unidentified co-conspirators allegedly used stolen identities to steal more than $930,000 from lenders through at least eight fraudulent loan transactions, including four mortgage loans, three home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), and one car loan. The defendants allegedly used stolen or fictitious identities not only for the borrowers, but for numerous other persons and businesses connected to the transactions.

    They created all of the hallmarks of a legitimate residential loan transaction by using stolen and fictitious identities to fill all of the required roles: seller, attorneys, settlement agent, title agent, homeowner’s insurance company, notary and other parties. The loan applications contained many falsified documents, including closing documents, wire transfer documents and title insurance documents, all of which were purportedly witnessed, prepared or reviewed by parties and professionals who, in fact, either did not exist or had no knowledge of the transactions.

    By creating the illusion of a legitimate transaction, the defendants allegedly deceived unsuspecting lenders into processing the fraudulent loan applications. Once the loan was approved, the victim-lender disbursed the loan proceeds – in the case of the mortgage loans, amounts ranging from $196,000 to $230,000 – to a bank account opened in the fictitious or stolen name of a title company or law firm.|
    The owners of the homes connected to the loans were never really parties to the transactions, and with respect to the mortgage loans, none of the homes were actually sold.
For more, see Two Arrested on First-Degree Charges for Allegedly Stealing Nearly $1 Million in Elaborate Identity Theft and Mortgage Fraud Scheme (Third defendant sought as fugitive in investigation by NJ Attorney General’s Office, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Federal Housing Finance Agency OIG).

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