Talbot County Attorney Indicted in Real Estate Investment Fraud Scheme with More Than $747,000 in Losses
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 19, 2013|
BALTIMORE—A federal grand jury has indicted Aaron G. Seltzer, age 36, of Trappe, Maryland, on nine counts of wire fraud in connection with a scheme in which he converted funds intended for real estate investments to his personal use. The indictment was returned on March 14, 2013, and unsealed today upon Seltzer’s arrest.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the nine-count indictment, Seltzer was a licensed Maryland attorney who handled real estate transactions and maintained an office in Crofton, Maryland. The indictment charges that from January 2008 through 2010, Seltzer offered victims fraudulent investment opportunities then diverted the money intended for the investments for his own benefit. The indictment alleges that Seltzer obtained a total of $747,860 through eight fraudulent transactions and seeks forfeiture of that amount as the proceeds of the scheme.
For example, Seltzer offered to sell an investor 45 percent of an Anne Arundel County real estate company, claiming that he owned 100 percent of the stock, assets, and liabilities of the company, when in fact, he did not. The investor sent a total of $92,000 to Seltzer, which Seltzer allegedly used for his own benefit. During the summer of 2009, Seltzer contacted a lawyer in New York and represented that a client of Seltzer’s was seeking a business loan. According to the indictment, Seltzer proposed that the loan be secured by a mortgage on three commercial properties located in Virginia, purportedly owned by Seltzer’s client. The New York attorney assembled a group of investors to fund the loan. Seltzer presented the attorney with a fraudulent promissory note, which Seltzer falsely claimed was signed by a representative of his client. Seltzer further falsely represented that he had conducted the closing for the loan and presented the attorney with fabricated closing documents. On behalf of the investors, the attorney wired Seltzer $497,527 to fund the loan, which Seltzer allegedly diverted to his own benefit.
Seltzer faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each of the nine counts of wire fraud. Seltzer is scheduled to have his initial appearance at 3:45 p.m. today in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
Today’s announcement 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. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised HSI Baltimore and the FBI and for their work in the investigation and recognized the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission for its assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo J. Wise, who is prosecuting the case.