Saturday, April 07, 2007

Westchester County Clerk Joins Chorus With Warning Against Foreclosure Rescue Scams

Mid Hudson News reports that Westchester County, New York Clerk Timothy Idoni announced earlier this week that the number of newly filed foreclosure actions during the first quarter of 2007 is up 39 percent increase over the first quarter of 2006, and up 116 percent increase over the first quarter of 2005. He warns to be cautious of foreclosure rescue schemes if a foreclosure action is filed against you. “Unfortunately an increase in foreclosures also brings with it a new set of con artists just waiting to take advantage of residents who are under the stress of foreclosure action,” he warns. For more, see Westchester County clerk urges at-risk residents to seek reputable counseling.

Cash Back, Double HUD Scam Lands Two In Jail

The reports that former mortgage broker Jay Snyder (36 months, $261,000 restitution) and her boyfriend, Mark Wilkins (27 months, $278,000) were sentenced in a Tennessee Federal Court recently for their involvement in a cash back, "double HUD" mortgage fraud scam that also involved illegally inflating the value of the real estate involved in the fraudulent transactions.

Reportedly, the title company handling the preparation of the closing paperwork issued two HUD settlement statements - one with the actual price that went to the seller and one with the inflated price that went to Wilkins and to the finance company providing the money.

The two women that Ms. Snyder reportedly learned the double HUD technique from, Angela Byrd and Donovan Jean Barnes-Bass of Executive Title Company, each received 18 month sentences. To read more, see Snyder Gets 36 Months, Wilkins 27 Months For Mortgage Fraud.

Go here for the Indictment - U.S. vs. Snyder, Wilkins.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Nevada Considering Foreclosure Rescue Legislation

The Las Vegas Sun reports that a foreclosure rescue victim testified this past Wednesday at a hearing of the Nevada Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee about her experience of allegedly getting ripped off by a foreclosure rescue operator. The committee is currently considering the passage of legislation that, in addition to creating the crime of mortgage fraud, will regulate the conduct of so-called foreclosure consultants as well as those who purchase real estate from homeowners facing foreclosure. Attorney Daniel Ebihara, with the non profit law firm Clark County Legal Services, also testified, advising lawmakers that foreclosure rescue operators operate without restrictions and the people who run them aren't required to be licensed. The article quotes him as telling lawmakers that:
  • "This business is fraught with lies, fraud and misrepresentation. The people who engage in this business of foreclosure purchasing have learned their trade from get-rich-quick seminars in hotel ballrooms."

For more, see Nevada bills aimed at regulating mortgage industry.

Go here for for Nevada's Pending Legislation AB440 (specifically see Sections 7 through 20 of the bill) to see the anti home equity theft provisions of the statute that Nevada lawmakers are considering passing into law.


Another Homeowner Battling Misguided Condo Board

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that another Fort Lauderdale condominium association board of directors has again picked on the wrong person. A condo association at The Port Condominium, who originally prohibited one of its residents from attaching a small Jewish religious symbol known as a Mezuzah on her front door is now backpeddling and has allowed her to do so. Further, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum's office, through its civil rights division, has jumped into the battle and has given the association until 5:00 pm Thursday to change its rules so all its Jewish residents can hang mezuzahs. If that isn't enough, R. Alexander Acosta, the U.S. Attorney in Florida's Southern District has announced that his office has assigned an attorney in the Fort Lauderdale office to take a careful look at the facts in this matter and determine if a federal lawsuit would be appropriate.

The association's rule prohibits anyone from attaching, hanging, affixing or displaying anything on the exterior walls, doors, balconies and windows, which are considered common property controlled by the association. Reportedly, however, it was not uncommon for some residents to hang Christmas wreaths on their front doors without anybody bellyaching about it.

This is another example of a condo association board of directors' common sense taking a "leave of absence", doing something ridiculous, and in the process, exposing all of the unit owners to monetary liability for damages from a possible Fair Housing lawsuit for doing something stupid, thinking that they could bully someone and get away with it.

It hasn't been a good week for South Florida condo associations. I reported Wednesday on a wheelchair-bound, 85 year old widow with a failing memory who is also getting bullied by a condo association because her caretakers haven't been screened and approved by the condo association's board of directors. In my view, all the unit owners in this case are being exposed to potential monetary liability for a possible Americans' With Disabilities Act lawsuit simply because of a condo association board of directors' inability to apply common sense to a relatively simple fact pattern. The wheelchair-bound widow has elected to fight back. See 85 Year Old Widow Battling Condo Association.

For more on today's story, see Florida attorney general orders Lauderdale condo to allow Jewish mezuzahs on doors (no longer available online).

For a prior story on this case, see Condo board's stance against mezuzah is totally meshuganeh (no longer available online).


New York State Banking Department To Kick Off Statewide Campaign To Address Abusive Lending & Mortgage Fraud

The New York State Banking Department is kicking off a statewide campaign to address abusive lending and mortgage fraud next week, as reported by Queens Courier Online, at Reckless mortgage underwtiting practices and the onslaught of so-called foreclosure rescue services are primary concerns of local consumer advocates. “These predatory and subprime loans are often targeted specifically at people of color, low income and vulnerable people,” said Oda Friedheim, a staff attorney at the Queens Neighborhood Office of the Legal Aid Society.

To read more, see Record number of subprime mortgage foreclosures here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Litigating Foreclosure Rescue Scams

Public interest attorney Phillip Robinson, Executive Director for Civil Justice, Inc., has an article directed to attorneys appearing on the website of the Maryland State Bar Association. In it he poses a scenario involving a client in dire straits who approaches an attorney. The client "has little money, owns a home, recently lost his job, has mounting unsecured debts and just received an eviction notice from the District Court of your county." The client wants to know why he is being with eviction when he owns his home.

Robinson encourages that "a little further investigation of the facts may yield new remedies for your client worthy of their consideration – as well as a statutory attorney fee award."

He goes on to describe the nightmare of an 83-year-old Maryland woman in poor physical health whose monthly income was about $1,300 and who had about $200,000 in home equity when she signed away her home to a foreclosure rescue operator. After taking the operator to court and winning, the Court awarded her over $10,000 in actual damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.

He points out that the Maryland anti home equity theft statute (Protection of Homeowners in Foreclosure Act of 2005) criminalizes some activities commonly found in these scams and also provides a treble damages award to victims when the foreclosure rescue operator willfully or knowingly violates the statute plus reasonable attorney's fees.

The article concludes by suggesting that while the Maryland anti home equity theft statute exempts from liability many settlement service providers connected with the transaction, those such as real estate agents, title insurers, settlement firms and others facilitating the transaction could nevertheless face certain liabilities based on their other legal obligations.

For more, see Litigating Foreclosure Rescue Scams (An Emerging Area of Consumer Law)

Editor's Note

In those states that do not have an anti home equity theft statute, the attorney representing the foreclosure rescue scam victim may have to find remedies for their client in their state's unfair and deceptive trade practices statutes, which typically provide for statutory attorneys' fee awards, or if applicable, in the Federal statutes (ie. Truth In Lending Act (TILA) and/or the Homeowners Equity and Protection Act (HOEPA), which also provide for statutory attorney fee awards). And, as I have mentioned in the past, prevailing on claims of state law violations could also entitle the plaintiff and counsel to a fee enhancement by the application of a contingency fee risk multiplier, depending on the law of your home state (see South Florida Homeowner Victimized By Foreclosure Rescue Operator - then search for the term "multiplier").

Media Coverage Not New For D.C.-Area Foreclosure Rescue Operator

The foreclosure rescue operators referred to in the recent press release (see Hogan & Hartson Wins $3.3 Million Verdict in Pre-Foreclosure Scam Case) by the Washington, D.C.-area law firm Hogan & Hartson are not new to media and other coverage regarding their rescue operations.

1) The Daily Record (Baltimore, MD) published this story:

2) CBS News did a 2004 Consumer Alert on Vincent Abell, Modern Management, and Calvin Baltimore. See:

3) The Concord Monitor Online published this Washington Post article:

4) HomeOwners For Better Building has published this article:

5) The Maryland law firm Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander, LLC has made available online this Federal Court decision involving Vincent Abell:

  • Abell v. Devan, Case No. 06-1621 (D. Md. 2006) (link no longer available).
6) For other reports, see Google Search on Vincent Abell.

Go here , go here , and go here for other posts on elder financial abuse. zeta elder financial abuse

More On NBC's Dateline: To Catch An I.D. Thief

Part 2 of NBC's undercover investigation on identity theft, Dateline: To Catch An I.D. Thief aired this past Tuesday night. To watch Tuesday's program, see Putting a face on ID theft. Chris Hansen reports. Go here for the To Catch an I.D. Thief homepage. Click here for other posts on Dateline: To Catch An I.D. Thief.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

85 Year Old Widow Battling Condo Association

Today's South Florida Sun-Sentinel features a story of a wheelchair-bound, 85 year old widow with failing memory who requires 24-hour care who is being sued by her condo association because it considers her caretakers as "unauthorized and/or transient occupants" who need to be screened and approved by the association in order to stay in the apartment. Said approval hasn't been sought.

To read more, see Ailing Margate widow, 85, fights condo board to preserve her independence.


Fort Lauderdale attorney F. Blane Carneal, recipient of the Broward County Legal Aid's Lawyer's Care Award as Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year in 1999 and The Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award in 2002, is representing the widow. Go here for more on F. Blane Carneal.

Representing the condo association is Rachel E. Frydman of the Fort Lauderdale firm Katzman & Korr. Go here for more on Katzman & Korr, including reports of a class action lawsuit brought against it by homeowners of a condo association for allegedly violating Federal law in the collection of unpaid maintenance fees. In that matter, Mr. Carneal was one of the attorneys representing the homeowners who brought the lawsuit against Katzman & Korr. Go here for report of class action settlement by Katzman & Korr.

(It seems to me that if the law doesn't treat a medically-necessary service animal as a "pet" for purposes of enforcing a "no pets" restriction, it shouldn't treat a medically-necessary caretaker for a wheelchair-bound 85 year old person as an "occupant" for purposes of enforcing "screening requirements" contained in condo association bylaws. In any event, this case has the makings for quite a battle, especially give the history between the attorneys involved. Personally, I'm bettin' on the lady in the wheelchair, and if she wins this battle, it wouldn't surprise me if an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit against the condo association in Federal Court follows.)

Judge Blocks Eviction Of Foreclosure Rescue Victim; Police Investigating

CBS4 in Miami, Florida reports on a foreclosure rescue victim who was scammed out of an estimated $60,000 in home equity in exchange for a few hundred bucks. The deal was apparently a standard foreclosure rescue deal; sign over the property to an investor and is told that in 6 or 12 months, the homeowner can buy it back.

Reportedly, a judge has blocked her eviction and the case is being investigated by the North Miami police department. To read more, see Foreclosure Fraud: Predators Want Your Home.

Go here to watch the CBS4 Video of this story. (Consumer reporter Al Sunshine reporting).

Southern California Foreclosure Rescue Victims

(revised 8-16-07)
The Orange County Register recently featured a story of some of the victims of a five person foreclosure rescue operation in Southern California. The scam, according to a federal indictment, defrauded about 100 homeowners throughout Southern California out of about $12 million. Those indicted were Edward Seung Ok, Martha Rodriguez, Cynthia Valenzuela, Vladimir Stefanovic, and Maria G. Juarez. Rodriguez and Valenzuela have each entered a plea of guilty; the remaining three face a federal court trial in July. Some of the victims currently have civil lawsuits pending against the rescue operators.

For more, see Let the borrower beware (At least 10 O.C. property owners have lost equity and even their homes in what federal prosecutors call a $12 million scam. As more homeowners get overextended, foreclosure rip-offs will rise).

For a prior post on this case, see Two Plead Guilty In Combined Foreclosure Rescue / "Straw Buyer" Mortgage Fraud Scam.

For the Federal prosecutor's version of the facts in this foreclosure rescue scam, see U.S. vs. Valenzuela - Plea Bargain Agreement; Stipulated Statement of Facts, pages 15 through 21, describing the foreclosure rescue deals, the subsequent mortgaging of the victims' homes using straw buyers, and the ultimate default on the newly obtained mortgages.

For past U.S. Department of Justice Press Releases on this case, see:

Go here for other posts on this foreclosure rescue scam.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Foreclosure Rescue Sales Voided; Return Of Homes Ordered

A recent article in The Kansas City Star warns against those looking to capitalize on the current problems with home foreclosures throughout the country. Included in the report is a note on Miami, Florida economic crimes prosecutor William Kostrzewski, who reportedly personally goes out and takes down all those homemade signs on the side of the road advertising foreclosure help, "we buy houses", etc. He is quoted as saying, "If there's no sign, there's no victim, there's no investigation, there's no money lost and there's no prosecution. I like it that way." (That's sounds like a pretty good way for him to cut down on his caseload.)

Also in the report is the story of a victimized 75 year old Miami woman who had lived in her home for more than 25 years when an operator named Hencile Dorsey showed up at her home in 2003 offering help with her unpaid $3,000 property tax bill. It wasn't until she tried to get a mortgage on the home some time thereafter that she learned that she had unwittingly conveyed her title to Dorsey and had been making payments on a home that was no longer in her name. She has subsequently developed health problems that it is believed attributable to the ordeal.

In January, 2006, the homeowner, through her attorney, filed a lawsuit to void the title transfer. In February of this year, a judge voided the transfer, returned the property to the victimized homeowner and voided the mortgages that used her home as collateral. Attorney Carolina A. Lombardi, of Legal Services of Greater Miami, represented the victimized homeowner.

A similar story of a case in Bellevue, Washington is also recounted, where the homeowner ultimately fought back, sued the foreclosure rescue operators, and according to the article, the operators:
  • "[w]ere found to have committed fraud and violated the state consumer-protection act by engaging in unfair or deceptive business practices. They were ordered to transfer title of the home back to [the victim], reimburse her for the estimated $35,000 she paid in rent and pay her the rent that other tenants had paid on the property since she'd been evicted."
The case is currently being appealed. Attorney Melissa Huelsman of Seattle, Washington, who successfully sued to get the home back on behalf of the victim, said that more than half of her practice now involves defending foreclosure rescue victims.

To read more, see As foreclosures rise, scam artists flourish.

(Editor's Note: To attorneys - Prevailing on allegations that the foreclosure rescue operator violated state consumer protection laws as in this case is one way to open the door to court ordered attorney fee awards to be imposed on the operator, since those statutes typically provide for an attorney fee award to a prevailing plaintiff; and if your state allows for it, a fee enhancement by applying a contingency fee risk multiplier to the base fee calculated by the court).

Group Declares "Sign Swiping Day", Removes Foreclosure Rescue Roadside Signs

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported some time ago on a story about a small group from a Richmond, Virginia fair housing organization who set aside a day, declared it "Sign Swiping Day", and then went around the neighborhoods taking down the "Stop Foreclosure" signs and other such signs that one sees posted on the side of the road that are associated with foreclosure rescue operators. By day's end, between 75 and 100 of the signs were collected. To read more, see Richmonders declare war on lending scams (They take to city streets to remove signs connected to foreclosure rescue scams).

See also, HOME press release: "Sign Swiping Day" Sept 30 in the City of Richmond "trying to stop the foreclosure rescue scam artists". we buy houses

Watch Out For Those "Rescue" Road Signs

A recent article in The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina) cautions consumers that with the number of homeowners being forced into foreclosure on the rise, the number of people willing to swindle them out of their homes is also on the rise. The article:
  • Cautions against responding to those signs on the side of the road that seem to be all over the place that are associated with foreclosure rescue operators (ie. "We Buy Homes -- Instant Cash", etc.)
  • Describe the most common scams, and
  • Lists suggestions on avoiding them

To read more, see Reasons to beware of 'We Buy Homes'.


Monday, April 02, 2007

New Century Financial Halts All Ohio Foreclosures; Fires 3,200, Flies For Ch. 11 Protection

The Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) reported last week at that:
  • New Century Financial Corp. has agreed to halt all foreclosures in Ohio while state regulators and law enforcement officials determine if any of the loans violated predatory lending laws, Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann’s office said.
For more, see Lender halts Ohio foreclosures.

Los Angeles Business reports:
  • New Century Financial Corp. has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy and has agreed to sell its servicing assets and platform to Carrington Capital Management LLC and its affiliates for about $139 million, the company said Monday.
  • It also announced plans to reduce its workforce by about 3,200, or 54 percent, immediately.

For more, see New Century files for bankruptcy, agrees to sell servicing assets.

Foreclosure Rescue Victim Wins $3.3+ Million Verdict Against D.C. Operator

The Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia law firm Hogan and Hartson LLP has announced that it:
  • "has obtained a substantial jury verdict, including $3.3 million in punitive damages, against the perpetrators of a "pre-foreclosure" scheme in the Washington metropolitan area. After a week-long trial in the District of Columbia Superior Court, the eight-person jury found that the defendants — Vincent Abell, his company Modern Management, and his agent Calvin Baltimore — defrauded the plaintiff Maria Wilson and wrongfully took her home for a tiny fraction of its value. The jury also found that the defendants' scheme, in which they approach homeowners facing foreclosure and offer to help them "keep" their homes through a fraudulent sale-leaseback transaction, violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Act. The jury awarded Wilson compensatory damages of $60,000, and assessed punitive damages totaling $3.3 million against the three defendants."
For more, see Hogan & Hartson Wins $3.3 Million Verdict in Pre-Foreclosure Scam Case.

Editor's Note:

Because consumer protection laws typically call for an attorney fee award to be granted to the prevailing plaintiff (in this case, the foreclosure rescue victim), the foreclosure rescue operator in this case will, in all likelihood, be ordered to pay an additional amount to the homeowner's attorney for legal fees for violating the D.C. Consumer Protection Act. The amount could conceivably amount to several hundred thousand dollars or more (see, for example, the Nebraska case in
Voiding A Title Transfer In A Foreclosure Rescue Transaction, where the attorney fees that the foreclosure rescue operators were ordered to pay added up to over $375,000).

Florida Foreclosure Rescue Operators Found Guilty In Federal Fraud Trial

Five of seven indicted members of a Central Florida foreclosure rescue operator group were found guilty of mortgage fraud last Thursday in a Tampa, Florida Federal Court, according to an article in the Tampa Bay Business Journal. Those convicted include Ramzy Moumneh and Kamal Moumneh (aka Kamal Renno), who owned and operated First Hanover Mortgage Corp., that was purportedly in the business of assisting financially strapped homeowners facing foreclosure to keep their homes. They also allegedly controlled other entities involved in the subject transactions.

Also found guilty were:
  • Chuong X. Dam, a business associate of the Moumnehs.
  • Demetrios J. Voiklis (aka James Voiklis), who, according to the indictment, is an attorney who did business as Juris Title, and who acted as a closing agent for real estate transactions, and
  • Kimberly Brothers, who worked as a closing agent for Voiklis and Juris Title.
The case against a sixth co-defendant, Amy Hudd (aka Amy Paukner) was severed during the trial due to health problems and, unless she decides to plead guilty in the hope of getting some leniency, is expected to be tried separately (in which case, and unless there's a hung jury, she'll either be found not guilty and walk free, or she'll be found guilty and probably get hammered by the judge at her sentencing). The seventh member of the group, Lucretia Junge, waived her right to a trial, pleaded guilty, and testified at the trial against the others involved.
The foreclosure rescue plan that was being arranged allegedly involved deceiving the homeowners into signing deeds conveying their homes to third party investors, acting as a straw buyers, with the understanding that the homeowners could lease back their home and ultimately buy it back after making twelve monthly payments. In the process, the homeowners ' equity in their homes were allegedly stripped, with the money derived therefrom ending up in the operators' pockets. According to the indictment, the investors / straw buyers:
  • Did not make any actual investment,
  • Were people with good credit,
  • Were falsely told that they would not be personally liable for the loans being obtained,
  • Were paid a fee by the conspirators for acting as straw buyers,
  • Were falsely held out to the mortgage lenders financing the purchases as "bona fide purchasers" who intended to personally repay the loan when, in fact, they were not bonafide purchasers and had no intention on repaying the loans.
The indictment further alleged, among other things, that both the homeowners who signed away their homes and the straw buyers were neither given a chance to read the documents they were asked to sign, nor were they given copies of the documents they signed. Additional allegations involved phony claims of liens made by the conspirators on the homeowners' properties, use of false loan applications and inaccurately prepared HUD-1 closing statements, and false representations to the mortgage lenders that the homes would be occupied by the straw buyers.

To read the media report, see Five convicted in home equity fraud.

For those seeking a greater understanding of how this scam worked (ie. prosecuting attorneys, civil attorneys representing homeowners victimized by this type of foreclosure rescue deal, investors wanting to learn what not to do), you may want to check out the Indictment - U.S. vs. Moumneh, et al.

New York City Neighborhoods Not Spared From Subprime Problems

A recent New York Daily News article reports that, in some neighborhoods throughout New York City, "[a]s many as 10 homes per block faced foreclosure last year." The cited reason for the increased problems faced by NYC homeowners:
  • "[s]ubprime mortgages offered by unscrupulous real estate brokers and predatory lenders, according to a new study on the epidemic of citywide foreclosures."

The new study, by the nonprofit Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP), also contains the expectation that, based on the rate current of NYC foreclosure filings, over 15,000 foreclosure filings are expected this year, more than double the total two years ago. To read more, see Set up for a fall (Subprime mortgages lead to record foreclosures in the city's poorest nabes).

Editor's Note:

It sounds like New York State regulators are going to have their hands full enforcing the state's Home Equity Theft Prevention Act, which was signed into law last year and went into effect on February 1, 2007. Maybe regulators should consider organizing some type of "undercover sting" to catch those who both prey on homeowners facing foreclosure and violate the new law in the process.

While I know of no state that conducts undercover stings in connection with enforcing their anti home equity theft statutes, I do know that for some time now, the State of California, through their Contractors State License Board, periodically conducts these stings throughout the entire state (in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies) as an effective tool in the enforcement of their home improvement contractor licensing law. See, for example:

Video: Alleged Unlicensed Contractors Arrested In Sting

The local media and organizations like the Better Business Bureau may also be of some help. See, for example, Business bureau's TV show takes on contractor fraud, an article appearing on the San Diego Union Tibune's website, which reports on a 30 minute educational documentary produced by the San Diego Better Business Bureau (and which aired on local San Diego TV stations) geared to inform consumers on protecting themselves from contractor fraud.

The program chronicled the experience of more than 20 San Diego-area families scammed by one smooth-talking swimming pool contractor and included footage of shoddy workmanship and unfinished jobs, as well as sound bites from Better Business Bureau and law enforcement officials involved in the undercover investigation.

In conclusion, and while on the subject of undercover investigations, I have recently reported on the NBC Dateline program, which recently began airing a new series, Dateline: To Catch An I.D. Thief, which is the product of a one year undercover investigation on identity theft. See Dateline NBC Going After Identity Theft.

It may be that making a case for violating the anti home equity theft statutes could be tougher and more expensive than enforcing state licensing laws against unlicensed contractors. But with home foreclosures being the current problem that it is, high profile undercover stings may be an effective deterrent both to those violating the anti home equity theft statutes as well as to those thinking about it. Since the State of California has an established track record of regularly conducting undercover stings in enforcing their home improvement contractor statutes, and because the state Attorney General's office has recently announced that they are keeping an eye on foreclosure rescue activity (see California AG Closely Watching Foreclosure Rescue Activity), I have to make them the strong favorite to be the first state in the U.S. to conduct these stings in enforcing the California anti home equity theft statutes.

However, if New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg decides to get involved, possibly by exercising his influence with state govenment and with the local NYC district attorneys, or possibly by offering his cooperation to state regulators by making the services of NYC Police Department economic crimes investigators available in possible joint investigations throughout the city with state regulators and/or investigators from the local NYC DAs and state Attorney General's office, I might have to reconsider my position.


Dateline NBC Features Mortgage Fraud Con Artist Matthew Cox

Dateline NBC featured a story on multi state mortgage fraudster Matthew Cox and how he lured women to become his co-participants in his scams on last night's program. To watch the first segment of the program, and for links to all six program segments, see "Thief of Hearts".

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Straw Buyers Plead Guilty To Federal Fraud Charges

Anchorage, Alaska residents Bekim Hasipi, Robin Dorman and Jan Marquiss pleaded guilty in an Alaska Federal Court to one count each of wire fraud for false statements made in applying for mortgage loans. They were allegedly part of a seven person mortgage fraud ring currently being prosecuted on charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, mail fraud and making false statements to financial institutions. Still currently under indictment include Kourosh Partow, who is accused of wrongdoing while he was a manager at the Anchorage branches of Countrywide Home Loans and American Home Mortgage, neither company being accused of wrongdoing.

The others include Azem Limani, Dzevid Limani and Agim Delolli.

Sentencing of the straw buyers has been postponed pending the outcome of the prosecution against the remaining defendants (my guess is prosecutors would like to see how effectively the straw buyers testify against their alleged confederates before recommending to the judge how hard they should be "spanked"). For more, see 3 plead guilty to Anchorage fraud (Mortgage Crime: Prosecutors say four others are part of the loan ring).

For story updates, see:

Straw Mortgage Company Used In Alleged Identity Thefts

Four people were arrested in Vista, California recently, as well as two others currently in state prison, on suspicion of ensnaring over 100 victims who collectively lost about $500,000, in connection with the operation of an identity fraud ring. They are suspected of using a bogus mortgage company, First Choice Mortgage, to collect personal identification information from the victims, which was then used to purchase goods that were then either sold or returned for refunds.

Michael Alexander Hartsell, Oscar Barbosa, Daniela Dominique DiLorenzo, Patricia Ann McIntosh, William Andrew Padworski, and Natasha C. DiLorenzo have all been charged with being part of the ring.

Reportedly, the two members currently in state prison received the victims' I.D. data that was collected through the straw mortgage company, using prison computers to process the information.

To read more, see Four arrested in Vista on suspicion of being part of identity theft ring, appearing in North County Times.

Hospital Employee Steals Patients' Identity Information

CBS4 in Miami, Florida and The Miami Herald report that an employee at Baptist Hospital in Miami stole credit information from hospital patients. Hospital officials are investigating how many patients have been affected. Adrian Green of Homestead, Florida, whose position at the hospital was to register patients, has been arrested. His job gave him access to the sensitive identification information of thousands of patients. For more, see: