A 54-year-old woman has been sentenced to serve 11 years in a federal corrections facility for operating a scheme that defrauded mortgage holders in New York and Connecticut out of almost $38 million. The woman was convicted on June 19 following a two-week trial. She was also ordered to pay her victims restitution in the amount of $694,450 and forfeit assets worth $138,941. Details of the sentence were released on February 28 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Scheme to defraud
Documents presented during the woman’s trial revealed that she and two other individuals established a company that targeted distressed homeowners during the housing crisis. The company claimed that it could eliminate their mortgages in return for sizeable fees. The company then sent documents to lenders and filed mortgage discharge paperwork with county clerks. However, the mortgages had not been paid off and were eventually reinstated. The woman’s two business partners and three other individuals who helped carry out the fraud have also been sentenced.
Victims lost homes
Before finding the woman guilty, the jury heard how the scheme preyed on desperate borrowers and forced some of them out of their homes. According to U.S. attorneys, the company filed falsified mortgage discharge papers on 60 properties in the New York Metro Area in 2011 and 2012.
The risks of going to trial
The penalties handed down following jury verdicts tend to be harsher than those negotiated during plea discussions. This is why criminal defense attorneys with experience in white-collar crime cases may advise their clients to think carefully before rejecting plea offers from federal prosecutors. U.S. attorneys usually pursue indictments only after they have gathered compelling evidence, which, in cases involving bank and mortgage fraud, usually consists of incriminating documents that could be difficult to refute.
Source: The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, “Owner Of Fraudulent Mortgage Elimination Company Sentenced To 11 Years In Prison For $38 Million Fraud Conspiracy,” February 28, 2020