Longtime Fugitive Sentenced to 11 Years in Federal Prison for Massive Fraud and Identity Theft Scheme Linked to Foreclosure Scam
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 05, 2013|
LOS ANGELES—A fraud artist who was a fugitive from justice for more than a decade was sentenced this morning to 11 years in federal prison for running a nearly 15-year foreclosure-rescue scam that fraudulently delayed foreclosure sales for more than 800 distressed homeowners.
Glen Alan Ward, 48, a former Los Angeles resident who fled to Waterloo, Canada, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer. In addition to his prison term, Ward was ordered to pay $59,961 in restitution and to forfeit approximately $100,000 in cash and property previously seized by law enforcement authorities.
Ward pleaded guilty in April to three separate sets of charges stemming from his 15-year fraud scheme. In 2000, Ward failed to appear in United States District Court in Los Angeles after agreeing to plead guilty and fled to Canada.
In 2002, while he was a fugitive, Ward was indicted on multiple counts of bankruptcy fraud in San Francisco. One year ago, in the third case, Ward was indicted on mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and additional bankruptcy fraud counts in Los Angeles.
While in Canada, Ward recruited Frederic Alan Gladle, who was indicted by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles on bankruptcy fraud and identity theft charges in 2011. Gladle was sentenced last year to 61 months in federal prison (see: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/May/12-crm-576.html).
On April 5, 2012, Ward was arrested in Canada by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Waterloo Regional Police Service. On December 21, 2012, Ward was extradited to the United States to answer all three sets of charges.
Ward’s capture was the result of innovative investigative work, as well as close coordination between United States and Canadian authorities. After fleeing the United States in 2000, Ward continued his scheme while in Canada. To avoid being detected while accessing websites he needed for his scheme, Ward used a laptop computer in wireless hotspots away from his home. He also arranged for clients’ monthly payments to be deposited in the bank account of a person in Texas, which he could access with an ATM card. Upon receiving confirmation that client funds had been deposited, Ward would withdraw the funds at one of many Waterloo-area ATMs. Federal agents in the United States were able to identify Ward’s most-frequented wireless locations and his most-frequented ATMs. Using near-real-time information, these agents repeatedly passed along information on Ward’s current or expected whereabouts to Waterloo and RCMP authorities in Canada. These Canadian authorities would then visit the locations as soon as possible, usually missing Ward by only minutes. Finally, Canadian authorities established “stake outs” on multiple ATMs after Ward had received confirmation of a deposit. When Ward visited one of these ATMs, Canadian authorities identified Ward and arrested him.
According to a global plea agreement, Ward led a scheme that solicited and recruited homeowners whose properties were in danger of imminent foreclosure with promises that Ward would delay their foreclosures for as long as the homeowners could afford his $700 monthly fee. Once a homeowner paid the fee, Ward accessed a public bankruptcy database, retrieved the name of a debtor who had recently filed a bankruptcy petition, and directly the client to record a grant deed transferring a tiny interest in their distressed home. Then, after stealing the debtor’s identity, Ward faxed a copy of the bankruptcy petition, a notarized grant deed and a cover letter to the homeowner’s lender, directing it to stop the impending foreclosure sale due to the bankruptcy.
Because bankruptcy filings give rise to automatic stays that protect debtors’ properties, the receipt of the bankruptcy petitions and deeds in the debtors’ names forced lenders to cancel foreclosure sales. The lenders, which included banks that received government funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), could not move forward to collect money that was owed to them until getting permission from the bankruptcy courts, thereby repeatedly delaying the recovery of money for months and even years. Additionally, if a distressed homeowner wanted to complete a loan modification or short sale, they were left to the mercy of Ward to send them forged deeds, supposedly signed by the debtors, to re-unify their title as required by most lenders.
As part of the scheme, Ward delayed the foreclosure sales of approximately 824 distressed properties by using at least 414 bankruptcies filed in 26 judicial districts. During that same period, Ward admitted to collecting more than $1.2 million from his clients who paid for his illegal foreclosure-delay services.
The investigation in this case was conducted by SIGTARP and the FBI, which received substantial assistance from the U.S. Trustee’s Office. In addition, the Office of International Affairs of the Department of Justice, Canadian Waterloo Regional Police Service and Royal Canadian Mounted Police provided assistance in connection with Ward’s arrest and extradition.
This case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section.
This prosecution is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.