A Norcross woman is one of 12 people who have been charged by federal law enforcement for their involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme.
Federal officials said the dozen people involved in the scheme were filing fraudulent loan applications using fabricated documents so they could get mortgage lenders to fund mortgages for people who were, in reality, not eligible for the mortgages. More than 100 mortgage applications were approved over a four-year period because of the scheme.
Norcross resident Stephanie Hogan, 57, is one of at least two “document fabricators” accused of fabricating bank statements and earnings documents as part of the scheme.
“These defendants allegedly used their knowledge of the real estate lending process to manipulate the system for their own benefit,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said. “Mortgage fraudsters threaten the soundness of the real estate market in our community. We will investigate and charge anyone who takes advantage of our mortgage lending system for their own personal gain.”
The U.S. Department of Justice said listing agents Eric Hill, of Tyrone, and Robert Kelske, of Smyrna, worked for an unnamed major nationwide homebuilder, and allegedly helped more than 100 homebuyers commit fraud to get mortgages. Prosecutors said the homebuyers were looking to own a home but did not qualify to get a mortgage.
Hill and Kelske allegedly told the prospective homebuyers what type of assets to claim to have in their bank accounts as well what type of employment they should list when filling out their mortgage applications.
As for Hogan’s alleged role in the scheme, federal officials said she and other accused document fabricators allegedly altered homebuyers’ bank statements to make their assets look larger and created bank entries to show false direct deposits from an employer who was picked by Hill and Kelske.
Hogan was also accused of creating fake earnings statements that were designed to match the direct deposit entries so it would appear that the homebuyer was employed by a fake employer.
Prosecutors accused other people who were allegedly involved in the scheme of serving as employment verifiers who were supposed to take phone calls and respond to emails from lenders who were trying to verify the information on the mortgage applications.
Meanwhile, real estate agents Anthony Richard, of Locust Grove, and Cephus Chapman, of Warner Robbins, have been accused by prosecutors of allegedly falsely claiming to be selling agents representing homebuyers so they could receive receive commissions from the home sales.
The Department of Justice said Richard and Chapman had, in fact never met the homebuyers and would tell closing attorneys that they could not be available for the home closings and then sent wire instructions on how to receive their commissions.
Richard and Chapman then allegedly kicked back a majority of their commissions to Hill or Kelske.
In addition to Hogan, Hill, Kelske, Richard and Chapman, other people accused of being involved in the scheme include: Tyrone resident Fawziyyah Connor, 41; McDonough residents Jerod Little, 42, and Renee Little, 33; Stockbridge resident Paige McDaniel, 49; Locust Grove resident Donald Fontenot, 52; Powder Springs resident Maurice Lawson, 36; and Fairburn resident Todd Taylor, 54.
Connor is accused of also fabricating documents while Jerod Little, Renee Little, Lawson, Taylor, McDaniel and Fontenot are accused of acting as employment verifiers.
“What we have here is a group of mortgage industry professionals that have allegedly perpetrated a sophisticated mortgage fraud for profit scheme that was designed to enrich themselves at the expense of a federal housing program,” said Wyatt Achord, who is the special agent in charge for the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“The efforts that brought forward these charges demonstrate that when law enforcement is made aware of such schemes, we will commit the necessary resources to make sure that fraudsters are brought to justice.”
Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General Special Agent in-Charge Edwin Bonano added, “As charged, the defendants engaged in a multiyear scheme to defraud Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General will investigate and hold accountable those who seek to victimize these Government Sponsored Entities supervised and regulated by FHFA.”