Frank A. Rubino , ESQ.

FEDERAL AND INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL DEFENSE

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Appraiser commits $9 million mortgage fraud

A man who was President of his own appraisal company at 22 has been charged in a mortgage fraud case. The man, now 30, was President of Platinum Appraisal Services. His company was supposed to be making objective appraisals of various properties from a neutral perspective. In that way, the value of those properties could be fairly determined on behalf of buyers and sellers. For each appraisal, the company was to receive the modest sum of $325. However, that wasn't enough for the man who has now been charged with fraudulent practices. Instead, if allegations in the case are true, he pursued a path of wire fraud and conspiracy.

That path netted him and his company the far more profitable sum of five figures per transaction, at the cost of acting illegally and risking getting caught. According to the allegations, the man and his company wound up taking in over $9 million from their illicit actions. This amount was garnered across more than 100 mortgage transactions, all fraudulent.

In his business, the man started out working with a more seasoned appraiser. However, that appraiser was often absent due to personal matters, leaving the man accused in this case alone to deal with transactions himself. When he did so, he teamed up with an unscrupulous mortgage broker and property dealer. Both are complicit in the case. Together, they put together inflated property appraisals and used those to get excessively large loans from banks. The accused also made false appraisals of property for relatives. For example, he reported that a home his mother bought cost $82,000, requiring a $65,000 loan. However, the home actually cost $38,000. In the same transaction, he claimed that his mother had made a $20,000 down payment that had never actually happened. He used the doctored figures to secure a big loan for her, and transferred $15,000 cash of that loan directly to her.

Mortgage fraud legal cases compromise property purchases in every state, including Florida where real estate prices are already high. It is in the interest of every Floridian to make sure that mortgage fraud cases are addressed comprehensively.

Source: Post-Gazette, "Trial begins for Brighton Heights man in Pittsburgh mortgage fraud case" Rich Lord, Sep. 09, 2013

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