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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Sixth Person Sentenced|for Real Estate Scam

SAN DIEGO (CN) - A Ramona real estate agent was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme.

Teresa Rose, 58, also was ordered to pay more than $500,000 in restitution.

She was one of six people charged in the scam that the U.S. Attorney's office said "generated tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent loans and millions in illegal kickbacks to the participants."

Also charged, according to the U.S. attorney, were "Mary Armstrong, an unlicensed mortgage broker who orchestrated the scheme; William Fountain, Armstrong's assistant; John Allen, a mortgage loan processor from Laguna Hills; Justin Mensen, a straw buyer who later recruited others and helped launder the funds; and Audrey Yeboah, a Los Angeles-based tax preparer who generated fake paperwork to support the loans."

All have pleaded guilty, the U.S. attorney said in a statement.

Armstrong was sentenced to 100 months in prison, Fountain to 42 months, Allen to 12 months, Mensen and Yeboah to probation and house arrest.

Advertising on the Internet and in newspapers, the ring promised to buy "investors" houses using their credit and no money down. They offered $10,000 for each property bought and claimed they would pay the mortgage through the rental income. But the investors were merely straw buyers for the fraud.

"Rose helped secure mortgages on the properties by falsifying loan applications for the straw buyers," the U.S. attorney said in a statement. "Among other things, the loan applications she helped to falsify claimed that the borrowers had exorbitant income from fake employers, and assets that they did not own. Rose and others used sham employers in order to verify the borrowers' fabricated employment histories. In addition, Armstrong arranged for the borrowers to obtain 100 percent financing - and thus avoided having to make any down payment on the properties. ...

"In total, Armstrong arranged the purchase of approximately $100 million in loans through this scheme, resulting in estimated losses between $7 million and $20 million to the mortgage lenders and secondary purchasers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

Such scams have been common in recent years, particularly in Southern California.

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