Thursday, August 24, 2017

I.D. Theft Racket Ringleader Gets 10 Years In Mortgage Fraud Ripoff That Used Forged Documents, Simulated Loan Closings To Score Over $930K In Refinancing Proceeds Secured By Unwitting Victims' Homes

From the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General:
  • Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a Union County man was sentenced to state prison today [August 11] for leading an elaborate identity theft and mortgage fraud scheme in which he and his co-defendants stole nearly $1 million from various lenders.

    Artis Hunter, 50, of Union Township, N.J., the alleged ringleader, was sentenced today to 10 years in state prison, including 40 months of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca Jr., in Middlesex County. He pleaded guilty on May 8 to a charge of first-degree money laundering. Two co-defendants pleaded guilty previously and are awaiting sentencing. Laquan Jones, 43, of Newark, N.J., pleaded guilty on July 21 to second-degree money laundering and faces a recommended sentence of five years in prison, with a special condition of drug court. Melissa Phillip, 42, of West Orange, N.J., pleaded guilty on April 28 and faces a recommended sentence of 364 days in the county jail as a condition of a term of probation. Jones is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 15, and Phillip, on Nov. 13.
    “These defendants used multiple stolen and fictitious identities to stage loan closings that were entirely illusory, with the exception of the very real money they stole from lenders, totaling nearly $1 million,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Through our joint investigation, we closed the curtain on their costly scheme.”
    The defendants and additional unidentified co-conspirators 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 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.
    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 Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Leading Elaborate Scheme to Steal Nearly $1 Million Through Identity Theft and Mortgage Fraud (Three defendants have pled guilty in investigation by NJ Attorney General’s Office, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Federal Housing Finance Agency OIG).