Residents of South Florida were shocked by the sheer size of a $39 million mortgage fraud case in the area.
A woman at the center of the case, 38, has now been sentenced to over 16 years in a federal prison for her role in it. A jury found her guilty of wire fraud, mail fraud and fraud conspiracy at the conclusion of a trial that went on for six weeks. The scheme targeted a wide range of properties, including high-end residences in areas like West Palm Beach, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.
The woman was a Homestead-based realtor and mortgage broker. She was accused of using her position to convince uninformed clients to purchase condos throughout 2007 and 2008. According to prosecutors in the case, she intentionally persuaded buyers to purchase condos and other properties that were rapidly losing value. Doing this garnered her a small fortune in kickbacks. She cashed in while her clients were left holding the bag for the poor deals. In total, she is said to be responsible for $8.8 million of the fraudulent transactions in the case.
In addition to steering buyers to low-value properties, the woman is alleged to have inflated appraisals and tricked mortgage lenders. She funneled $760,000 through bank accounts under her control in 2007 alone.
The woman has claimed that she was treated more harshly in the trial because she had rejected plea offers.
Mortgage fraud accusations affect people throughout the state, including buyers, sellers, brokers and banks. Cases of this nature have been particularly prevalent in Florida in recent years. However, simply because someone is arrested does not mean he or she is guilty. Prosecutors must prove that in court beyond a reasonable doubt. Proper representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney can help.
Sun Sentinel, "Woman imprisoned for multimillion dollar mortgage fraud" Paula McMahon, Oct. 16, 2013