Several properties northwest Florida were supposed to be part of a real estate development project known as Riverwalk. The subdivision never happened and nine people involved in the project have now been indicted for mortgage fraud schemes involving the land. The group faces lengthy sentences in federal prison and massive fines if convicted of the charges. Among the crimes alleged to have occurred are conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The men are accused of obtaining loans through false information. They are then alleged to have received kickbacks from other people associated with the Riverwalk development for their efforts. The project drew attention due to the large quantities of money that continued to move around the project, despite the fact that the development stalled after the land was platted and permitted for construction.
The people facing charges have limited ties to Florida. There are residents of Colorado, Arizona, New York, Georgia, California and New Mexico among the defendants. It is not clear what drew the men together or how they came to know about an abandoned housing development in northwest Florida. As the alleged crimes involved Florida property, the men are being arraigned in Pensacola and will likely be tried in federal court here.
Real estate fraud schemes can involve complex financial transactions and documents that most laypeople do not understand. In one instance, a participant in this scheme is facing decades in prison for actions that allegedly netted roughly $35,000 in illegal gains. Federal prosecutors are pursuing these cases aggressively. If you are being investigated in connection with a mortgage or real estate transaction, you need experienced legal assistance right away. Each charge faced by these men could lead to a 20-year prison sentence. Mortgage fraud is a serious matter.
Source: NWF Daily New, "Nine indicted in alleged land schemes," by Tom McLaughlin, 7 February 2012