California Woman Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison in Multi-Million-Dollar Mortgage Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office August 15, 2013|
WASHINGTON—Hoda Samuel, 62, of Elk Grove, California, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for a mortgage fraud scheme that caused more than $5.5 million in losses, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
“Taking fraudsters out of the residential real estate industry and sending them to prison has been one of this office’s top priorities,” U.S. Attorney Wagner said. “Today’s sentence is another success in our fight against the mortgage fraud schemes perpetrated by Hoda Samuel and her co-defendants that wreaked havoc in this region.”
“Greed-based crimes such as these can undermine the stability of our financial institutions and the economy, resulting in devastating consequences for homeowners, businesses, and communities in which the properties are located,” said Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the Sacramento Division of the FBI. “The FBI continues to be committed to identifying and investigating mortgage fraud schemes, such as those committed by Hoda Samuel and her associates.”
“Today’s sentencing of Ms. Samuel is a warning to those who abuse their position of trust to unjustly enrich themselves, the consequences can be severe,” said José M. Martínez, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “Mortgage fraud has hurt so many people and so many of our communities. This sentencing highlights the ongoing commitment of IRS-CI to hold accountable those involved in these types of crimes.”
According to evidence presented at trial, Samuel, a licensed real estate broker, owned and operated real estate agency Liberty Real Estate & Investment Company and Liberty Mortgage Company. The government presented evidence of 30 fraudulent sales transactions between April 5, 2006 and February 26, 2007. Samuel was the real estate agent for the buyer in 29 of the home sales and, in at least 15, also represented the seller. Each transaction involved false statements on loan applications in order for unqualified buyers to qualify for the loans. These included false statements about income, employment, and rental history. False documents were created and submitted to lenders to support these lies. Persons were paid to answer lender calls and affirm the false statements. All the properties went into foreclosure.
According to court documents, Samuel not only falsified the borrowers’ ability to repay the loans, she also falsified the value of the collateral securing these loans. Fraudulent purchase prices, often exceeding the actual asking prices by $15,000 to $40,000, were inserted into contracts that included repairs and costs for disability access modifications. At times, the buyers’ minor children were named as building contractors so that money could be funneled back to buyers. The excess amounts were paid back to the buyers. The repairs and remodeling were seldom if ever done, and the lenders were unaware that the true purchase price for each property was below the total amount funded. Because Samuel saddled the banks with borrowers incapable of making payments, and properties worth less than the loans, loss was practically assured regardless of the market.
Eight of Samuel’s associates in the scheme pleaded guilty prior to trial and are awaiting sentencing.
This case is the product of an investigation by the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Philip A. Ferrari and Todd A. Pickles are prosecuting the case.