California real estate agent gets 14 years for $30 million mortgage fraud

by Ryan Smith18 Mar 2016
A California woman is headed to prison for 14 years for her part in a wide-ranging mortgage scam that fraudulently secured more than $30 million in loans.

Vera Kuzmenko, 46, was sentenced for multiple counts of wire fraud, witness tampering and money laundering, according to a report by the Sacramento Bee. Kuzmenko and co-conspirator Rachel Siders were convicted in December of participating in a scheme that ended up costing financial institutions more than $16 million.

Between 2006 and 2008, Kuzmenko and Siders secured more than $30 million in loans on more than 30 homes purchased through straw buyers, the Bee reported. Kuzmenko, who was a licensed real estate agent, created fraudulent loan applications that included phony information on the straw buyers’ income, assets and intent to occupy the homes. The phony paperwork also hid millions of dollars in payments that went to Kuzmenko, Siders and other co-conspirators, according to the Bee. In addition to preparing the applications, Kuzmenko also served as a straw buyer herself.

Authorities also said that after Kuzmenko learned she was under investigation by the FBI, she told witnesses to lie to investigators and blame the fraud on a dead woman, the Bee reported.
Four other co-conspirators have already been sentenced in the case, receiving prison terms between eight and 19 years. Siders is scheduled to be sentenced in June.


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