Three Detroit Residents Plead Guilty to Participating in a Home Mortgage Fraud Scheme
Three Detroit, Michigan, area residents pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.
According to court documents and statements, from approximately January 2006 to December 2008, Jason Najor, Jeffrey Najor, Joey Murad and others conspired to defraud financial lending institutions by providing fraudulent information on residential mortgage loan applications. The defendants devised a scheme to purchase single-family homes for approximately $5,000 to $40,000 each, and then recruited straw buyers to submit fraudulent loan applications for home mortgages substantially above the original purchase price. The applications falsified the straw buyers’ assets, income and down payment, among other things. The straw buyers were paid fees for their participation, which were sometimes falsely disguised as “landscaping” or “construction” fees. The conspirators made a substantial profit and paid themselves commissions on the sales. Every home purchased and sold as part of the scheme went into foreclosure.
In addition to the seven individuals indicted in the case, three of which pleaded guilty today, two others connected to the scheme have pleaded guilty. One individual is a straw buyer of multiple properties who received substantial fees as part of the scheme. The other individual is a mortgage broker who assisted in the preparation of the false mortgage loan applications. Co-conspirator Wasseem Shamoun also pleaded guilty on Jan. 23 and was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $394,000 in restitution for his role in selling properties to straw buyers.
The three defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of thirty years in prison and a fine of $1 million for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Sentencing for Joey Murad and Jeffrey Najor is on Sept. 19 and Jason Najor is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 17.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo commended the special agents of the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation and the DEA, who investigated the case, and Senior Litigation Counsel Corey Smith and Trial Attorney Mark McDonald of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case. Ciraolo also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan for their substantial assistance.
Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.