March 23, 2015

Collin County Man Sentenced to 151 Months in Multi-Million-Dollar Mail Fraud

SHERMAN, TE—A 35-year-old Allen, Texas man has been sentenced to federal prison for mail fraud violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

Marcus Brian Curry pleaded guilty on July 29, 2014 to mail fraud and was sentenced to 151 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant. A hearing to determine restitution will be held in approximately 90 days. A date for the hearing has not been set.

According to information presented in court, from June 2006 to February 2014, Curry, the owner and operator of South Coast Group, L.P., a real estate company located in Allen, Texas, devised a scheme to defraud certain homeowners and buyers. To facilitate the scheme, Curry solicited distressed homeowners who were facing possible foreclosure through mail advertisements and his website, [external link], and convinced them they could protect their credit by transferring the title to their homes to him with the promise he would assume responsibility for making the mortgage payments. Curry then solicited buyers with below average credit through his website, [external link], and would then sell the property to a new buyer representing that Curry was the true owner of the property, omitting that there was still an original lien holder, and in most cases, not paying the mortgage payments to the original lien holder as promised. In order to conceal the existing lien from the buyer, Curry financed the mortgage himself, set up “land trusts” pertaining to each transaction, designated himself as the “trustee,” and had the new buyer send payments to a private mail box under his control with the understanding that Curry, as trustee, would then make the mortgage payments.

After approximately six to ten months the buyer learned that the mortgage payments were delinquent pursuant to (1) either a delinquent notice from the true lending institution that held the note on the property or (2) from the original homeowner after the original owner had been contacted by the true lending institution. In turn, the lending institution often made a demand for payment-in-full for the remaining balance of the mortgage—despite the buyer’s submission of monthly payments to Curry. When the buyer was unable to make the full payment to the lending institution, the lending institution initiated the foreclosure process and the buyer was often evicted.

As part of the fraud scheme, more than 50 homeowners and buyers relied on Curry’s false material representations. As a result of his fraudulent actions, Curry personally gained $1,574,900, and caused a loss to homeowners, buyers and lending institutions of approximately $2,362,350.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher A. Eason.