Title Company Owner Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Escrow Funds
LAS VEGAS, NV—A Utah man who owned a title and escrow company that operated in Nevada, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud for embezzling almost $4 million from company escrow accounts for his own personal use, announced U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada.
Christopher L. Durling, 49, of Sandy, Utah, pleaded guilty on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, before Senior U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson to one count of wire fraud, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 11 at 9:00 a.m. Durling faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada successfully prosecuted hundreds of persons for fraud committed during the housing and mortgage lending bubble,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “Many of them were employed in the housing and lending industries and are now serving time in federal prison.”
Durling owned and operated Direct Title Insurance Agency, a title and escrow company which had offices in Nevada, Utah, Texas, Indiana, California, and elsewhere. From about March 2009 through June 2011, Durling devised a scheme to defraud various persons and entities of money and property by diverting funds from escrow accounts for his own personal use. Durling used a kiting scheme to artificially inflate the balances of office trust accounts in order to cover up the shortages that were caused by his diversion of the escrow funds. In late 2010, the volume of the diversions from the escrow accounts reached such a level that the kiting scheme could no longer conceal the fraud, and insurance companies had to reimburse 13 lenders approximately $4 million.
The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Cowhig.
The charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established 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’s 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. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.