VICTIMS INCLUDE 74-YEAR-OLD WIDOW
Nine people, including a high-level court employee, have been charged in a $1.4 million mortgage fraud scheme which used stolen identities to buy and sell properties - and cheat a 74-year-old widow out of the home she owned outright.
An investigation by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s Elder Fraud Unit uncovered a group of individuals who allegedly took out mortgages on houses located on 107th Avenue in Richmond Hill, Union Hall Street in Jamaica, and Schaeffer Street in Brooklyn. All nine are accused of conspiring to defraud the lending banks – J.P Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo – and falsifying mortgage records.
The probe began when 74-year-old Dorothy Thomas reported that her home had been sold two months earlier without her knowledge and that she was now facing foreclosure. She learned of the sale after receiving mail in the name of “Tolessi Enyonam” regarding both the recent purchase of the home and the pending foreclosure.
In that case, the defendants are accused of recruiting someone to pose at the closing as her deceased husband, Eugene Thomas, who died in 1986 and in whose name the house remained. The house was allegedly sold to a straw buyer with a $490,500 mortgage issued by Wells Fargo. In the other two cases it is alleged the homes were sold by legitimate owners, but were purchased by straw buyers using the stolen identity of a New Jersey woman and a resident alien who no longer lives in the country.
Those properties included a $533,850 mortgage on the Richmond Hill home and a $417,000 mortgage on the Brooklyn home. The defendants were expected to be arraigned earlier this week in Queens Criminal Court. They are variously charged with grand larceny, possession of stolen property, falsifying business records, conspiracy, scheme to defraud and money laundering.
“This complicated and devious scheme allegedly involved defendants who were so greedy that they bought and sold three properties – totaling more than $1.4 million in fraudulent transactions – over just eight days,” said Brown. “Their alleged actions left a Jamaica woman – whose house was owned free and clear – facing foreclosure and a New Jersey woman – whose identity was stolen – fighting off banks seeking payment of mortgages fraudulently taken out in her name.”
Among the defendants is John D’Emic, 59, of 72nd Street in Brooklyn, who was an attorney in private practice at the time of the alleged crime. In January, he was appointed Chief Deputy County Clerk in Kings County. He allegedly acted as an attorney for the “buyer” or “seller” on each transaction, received money from the closing, gave a portion back to another defendant and prepared false letters providing instructions for disbursement of the mortgage proceeds.
Also charged in the scheme was: Norma Barabash, 63, of Bellerose, a certified public accountant who allegedly was paid for issuing a letter in the name of a straw buyer regarding his tax returns; Shamim Choudhury, 35, of Jamaica, who allegedly recruited the straw buyer who posed as Dorothy Thomas’ late husband; Gulam Choudhury, 22, of Laurence, who is accused of being involved in the Richmond Hill sale; Daisy Guzman- Saavedra, 38, of Yorktown Heights, who allegedly served as a fake employment and residence reference for the straw buyers; Nazrul Islam, 23, of Jamaica, who provided false references for the loan applications; Alan Morris, 58, of New Hyde Park, who was disbarred as an attorney in 1992 and allegedly handled all of the closings; Boris Nektalov, 23, of Flushing, who prepared and submitted false loan applications through the Rego Park mortgage company he worked at; and Rajendar Persaud, 35, of Verbank, who is accused of providing stolen identification information and laundered proceeds.