Bergen County Loan Officer Pleads Guilty to Role in $2 Million Mortgage Fraud
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 06, 2013|
CAMDEN, NJ—A loan officer admitted today to conspiring to defraud financial institutions as part of an approximately $2 million mortgage fraud scam that used phony documents and “straw buyers” to make illegal profits on town homes and other real estate in three states, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Raffi Oghlian, 38, of Westwood, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle in Camden federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Oghlian worked for a period in 2008 as a loan officer at MJS Lending Inc. in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, which was in the business of making mortgage loans.
During his guilty plea proceeding, Oghlian admitted that he conspired with others to profit from the sale of over-priced homes in Newark, New Jersey, and Atlanta, as well as properties in Naples, Florida, owned by developers seeking to sell off inventory. He acknowledged that as part of the conspiracy, he and his conspirators obtained mortgage loans for unqualified borrowers using fraudulent loan applications and other documents.
Oghlian’s conspirators recruited “straw buyers” to purchase those properties at the inflated rates. The straw buyers had good credit scores but lacked the financial resources to qualify for mortgage loans. Oghlian created false and fraudulent loan applications that contained false information concerning, among other things, the straw buyers' employment, income, assets, and intended use of the properties. Oghlian also admitted creating false documents to support the phony loan applications.
Once the loans were approved and the mortgage lenders sent the loan proceeds in connection with real estate closings, Oghlian’s co-conspirators took a portion of the proceeds, having funds wired or checks deposited into various accounts they controlled. They also distributed a portion of the proceeds to other members of the conspiracy for their respective roles. For his part on the conspiracy, Oghlian earned fees as the loan officer of the seven transactions in which he participated.
In all, the conspiracy caused approximately $2 million to be released from MJS Lending.
The wire fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for March 13, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark; and IRS-Criminal Investigation, Newark field office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, for their roles in the ongoing investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.