Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force Announces Regional Results of “Operation Stolen Dreams” Targeting Mortgage Fraudsters
|U.S. Attorney’s Office June 18, 2010|
MEMPHIS, TN—Following an announcement yesterday by Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington, D.C., Lawrence J. Laurenzi, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee announced the regional results of the nationwide takedown "Operation Stolen Dreams," which targeted mortgage fraudsters in the Western District of Tennessee and throughout the country and is the largest collaborative enforcement effort ever brought to bear in confronting mortgage fraud.
The sweep was organized by President Obama’s interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which was established to lead an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. Starting on March 1, to date Operation Stolen Dreams has involved 1,215 criminal defendants nationwide, including 485 arrests, who are allegedly responsible for more than $2.3 billion in losses. Additionally, to date the operation has resulted in 191 civil enforcement actions which have resulted in the recovery of more than $147 million.
“Mortgage fraud ruins lives, destroys families, and devastates whole communities, so attacking the problem from every possible direction is vital,” said Attorney General Holder. “We will use every tool available to investigate, prosecute, and prevent mortgage fraud, and we will not rest until anyone preying on vulnerable American homeowners is brought to justice.”
Unlike previous mortgage fraud sweeps, Operation Stolen Dreams focused not only on federal criminal cases, but also on civil enforcement, recovering money for victims, and increasing cooperation with state and local partners.
The President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit StopFraud.gov.
Operation Stolen Dreams cases in the Western District of Tennessee included:
United States vs. Chuckwunenye Amaefule
Amaefule, 27, was sentenced to 27 months in prison and ordered to pay $260,000 in restitution on June 1, 2010 after pleading guilty to a two-count wire and mail fraud Information. According to the Information, Amaefule was a loan officer at Sun Mortgage in Memphis and was in the practice of buying residential property and then selling the same property for a significantly inflated amount shortly thereafter to straw buyers. Between May and July 2008, Amaefule devised a scheme to obtain money by false pretenses from mortgage lenders by buying a particular property with a fictitious straw buyer’s name. Amaefule obtained the stolen identity information of an individual and then without that individual’s knowledge, Amaefule opened a bank account using the individual’s personal identifiers. Amaefule also obtained a fraudulent Tennessee Driver’s license using the individual’s information and created a Verification of Bank Deposit Form to falsely reflect an inflated amount on deposit in the bank account. Amaefule would then use this information to assist his fictitious straw buyer in obtaining a loan and then distribute the proceeds to himself. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Economic Crimes Division of Memphis Police Department investigated the case. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Hall.
United States vs. Cheryl Jordan
Jordan, 60, pled guilty on April 28, 2010 to one count of an Information charging her with wire fraud. According to the Information and the facts set forth at Jordan’s plea hearing, Jordan was a real estate agent employed by Crye-Leike realtors. Seeking to purchase a new home but without sufficient income to purchase the home she wanted, Jordan devised a scheme to obtain money by false pretenses from Magna Bank by submitting fraudulent tax documents stating incomes substantially higher than her actual incomes. After initially lying to investigators about the tax documents, Jordan later confessed that the documents were fraudulent and were prepared by a friend based on fraudulent information she provided to him. Relying on the false documents submitted in Jordan’s loan application, Magna Bank provided a mortgage loan. Shortly after the closing, Magna Bank became aware of the fraud, called the loan due because of the fraud, and ultimately had to foreclose upon the house. Jordan will be sentenced on July 29, 2010. The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Fabian.