Foreclosure Fraud Hits FL

A federal jury here has found five people guilty of multiple counts stemming from an indictment alleging a scheme to cheat homeowners out of the equity in their homes and to defraud mortgage lenders, including federally insured financial institutions.

The jury found Ramzy Moumneh, a k a Ramsey Moumneh; Kamal Moumneh, a k a Kamal Renno; Chuong X. Dam; Demetrios J. Voiklis, a k a James Voiklis; and Kimberly Brothers guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and making a false statement to a federally insured lender.

Amy Hudd, a k a Amy Paukner, who was also charged in the indictment, fell ill during the trial. Due to her illness, her trial was severed from the others. Ms. Hudd will be tried separately at a future date. A seventh person, Lucretia Junge, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and requiring her to testify for the government at the trial.

"The conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud counts each carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000," said U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, Paul Perez. "The bank fraud counts and the counts charging a false statement in connection with a loan application each have a maximum penalty of 30 years imprisonment and a fine of $1 million."

According to evidence presented at trial and court documents, the defendants targeted homeowners located throughout Central and South Florida who were about to lose their homes through foreclosure. The homeowners were told that First Hanover Mortgage Corp., a company owned and controlled by the Moumneh brothers, could help them avoid the foreclosure and keep their homes at no cost to them, said Mr. Perez. "Rather than helping the homeowners, the homeowners were duped into selling their homes to straw buyers who were recruited by the defendants under the pretext that they could buy their homes back after making 12 monthly lease payments. In connection with each sale to the straw buyers, the defendants applied for and obtained new mortgage loans in the names of the straw purchasers with which to purchase the homes."

In each instance, the amount of the new loan was in excess of the balance owed on the existing mortgage loan on the home. After using the money from the new loan to pay off the existing mortgage loan, the excess funds remaining from the new loan were paid over to Properties Management Corp. and Maxx Financial Inc., entities owned and controlled by the Moumnehs and Dam, respectively, according to the U.S. attorney, pursuant to a demand pay off statement. The statement, according to court documents, was a sham document created by the defendants and sent to either Voiklis, Brothers or Junge, the closing agents for each of the home sales.

The demand pay off statement was a demand for payment of a nonexistent lien against the homeowner and in favor of Properties Management Corp. or Maxx Financial Inc. Without the knowledge or consent of the homeowners, more than $2 million of homeowners' equity was siphoned off to the defendants, said Mr. Perez.

The defendants also made false statements to the new mortgage lenders on the loan applications in the names of the straw purchasers. "They deceived those lenders by making it appear that the straw purchasers intended to repay the loan with their own funds and by making it appear that the straw purchasers were purchasing the homes as their principal residence," he said.

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