What do you think about this Feds, police bust Fairfax County mortgage fraud ring?
Federal and Fairfax County authorities have accused 20 people of running a mortgage fraud scheme involving 200 expensive homes that were sold to straw buyers with fake financial documents then leased or sold to illegal immigrants.
The homes purchased illegally had a net value of more than $ 100 million, law enforcement officials said.
In what authorities described as the largest fraud investigation in Fairfax County history, real estate agents and mortgage brokers conspired to inflate incomes and bank accounts of fraudulent home buyers. Those buyers, including eight illegal immigrants, then purchased multiple homes, according to an indictment filed in Alexandria’s federal court.
The fraud investigation was started after members of the Fairfax County Code Enforcement Strike Team discovered that newly constructed, abnormally large homes were being renovated to act as boarding houses, officials said Thursday while announcing the arrests.
Almost every building permit issued for those houses was obtained by two families, which helped lead Fairfax County police to the mortgage fraud. Fairfax County police eventually partnered with the FBI.
The strike team was created in 2007 to focus on overcrowding of area homes involving illegal immigrants. The team targeted overcrowded homes and illegal boarding houses that had sprung up across the county.
“It’s easy to think of mortgage fraud as just another faceless financial crime,” said Fairfax County Supervisor Jeffrey McKay. “Ask anyone in a community that has been affected and you’ll hear about the toll it takes on their neighborhood.”
Among those taken into custody was Ruben Rojas, a real estate agent who arranged for his sister and loan officer Lourdes Rojas Almanza to inflate the buyers’ income and bank accounts on loan documents, the indictment said. Each earned thousands of dollars in commission from selling and approving the mortgages for what were often million-dollar homes. The 10 buyers and two other members of Rojas’ family were also indicted on federal charges of bank and wire fraud. Authorities said eight others were arrested on state charges of using false statements in buying property.