Mortgage Lenders Stung in Alleged Scam

A multimillion-dollar scam by real estate agents and loan officers, in collusion with homebuyers, left mortgage lenders in the dust, authorities say. Two real estate agents and two mortgage loan officers were among nine people indicted for their roles in an alleged $11-million mortgage fraud scheme that involved paying buyers $100,000 each to purchase residential properties at inflated prices.

All in all, and unbeknownst to the mortgage lenders, the buyers allegedly received about $2 million from the mortgage loan proceeds.

The home purchases were allegedly structured so that a homebuyer would obtain a mortgage loan in excess of the actual price paid to a home seller; the scammers then pocketed the difference between the actual sales price and the inflated mortgage loan amount, according to the indictment brought Friday by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo.

In order to obtain the loan proceeds without the mortgage lenders' knowledge, the indictment says, the scammers created fictitious businesses to issue false invoices; those invoices claimed that the businesses had provided work and services for which they were entitled to receive mortgage loan proceeds.

Real estate agent Leann Raejeana Turner, 41, of Blue Springs, Mo., and real estate broker Carole L. Colson, 68, of Lake Worth, Fla., allegedly listed and arranged for the sale of the homes at inflated prices and solicited the buyers.

In addition to the conspiracy, Turner is charged with 31 counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.

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Mortgage loan officer Bruce Q. Williams, 41, of Kansas City, Kan. is charged along with her in 18 counts of wire fraud. Other defendants are also charged in various wire fraud counts.

The remaining defendants are: mortgage loan officer Anthony E. Hicks, 38, of Little Rock, Ark.; Mark P. Billey, 37, of Buena Park, Calif.; real estate agent Zelda Ann Jackson, 37, of Newbury Park, Calif.; and James Arthur Nash, Jr., 40, Arman Nshanian, 24, and Linda Joyce Henry Johnson, 62, all of Corona, Calif. They were charged in a 35-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 19.

Evidence supporting the charges against them will be presented to a federal trial jury to determine their guilt or innocence.

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