Five Arrested In $18 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme
Jeffrey C. Sullivan, US Attorney for the Western District of Washington announced Friday (June 5th) that five people have been arrested in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme that allegedly cheated area banks and property sellers out of more than $18 million.
The five arrested include:
- HUMBERTO A. REYES-RODRIGUEZ, a/k/a Tony Reyes, 42, of Federal Way, Washington
- ALEXIS IKILIKYAN, a/k/a Haikanush Ikilikyan, 29, of Auburn, Washington
- WILLIAM S. POFF, 37, of Marshall, Michigan
- MICKI S. THOMPSON, 54, of Tacoma, Washington
- MARIO A. MARROQUIN, 38, of Kent, Washington
All have been indicted by a federal grand jury for Conspiracy to Commit Bank and Wire Fraud and Money Laundering. The conspirators obtained financing from banks and, in some cases, also from sellers who were convinced to extend private loans for a portion of the purchase price. These private loans, which were not disclosed to the banks, as well as a web of fictitious rental companies, allowed the conspirators to obtain loan proceeds far beyond the value of the assets securing those loans, and beyond their ability to pay.
“This complex investigation uncovered a group of real estate professionals who manipulated home sales for pure profit while some of the properties went into foreclosure and innocent private citizens were defrauded,” said Leigh Winchell, Special Agent in Charge of ICE’s Office of Investigations. ICE will continue to use its unique investigative authority to uncover illegal financial transactions in an effort to stop this type of fraudulent activity.”
According to the detailed indictment, both REYES-RODRIGUEZ and ALEXIS IKILIKYAN worked as both licensed real estate agents and mortgage loan originators. ALEXIS IKILIKYAN’s ex-husband, WILLIAM S. POFF was a licensed notary and worked as a loan originator.
MICKI S. THOMPSON was an employee of Great American Escrow who acted as the closing officer for many of the fraudulent sales. Between 2005 and 2008, the conspirators used straw buyers to purchase and resell properties, obtaining more than 80 loans totaling more than $18 million. The conspirators submitted a variety of false information to the banks such as employment, income, citizenship status, assets and liabilities. The conspirators also submitted false appraisals and created fictitious companies that were allegedly doing repair work on the properties. Money at closing would go to these entities that, in reality, had done no work on the property. Defendant MARIO A. MARROQUIN headed fictitious repair companies and acted as a straw buyer.
In this scheme, the conspirators did not just damage banks and financial institutions. Innocent sellers were harmed when they agreed to loan the buyer a portion of the purchase price, to be paid back over time. The sellers did not know that the conspirators had already obtained 100 percent financing from commercial lenders. When payments were not made and properties fell into foreclosure, and then were sold for less than the total of all loans secured by the property, the sellers holding private notes were left with nothing.
The indictment alleges there were fraudulent mortgage transactions in communities across the Puget Sound region:
- Des Moines
Those arrested in the Seattle area were scheduled to make their initial appearances in federal court Friday afternoon at 2:30pm.
The conspiracy and money laundering charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Vogel and Darwin Roberts.
More information available here.