Five people in New York State have been charged in what prosecutors are calling a mortgage scam that went on for nearly a decade and cost banks and homeowners more than a million dollars.
Real estate agent and lawyer Theresa Sanders, attorney Michelle Powers, real estate appraiser Steven Essigand Paul Sakowski, all of central New York State, and Tracy Clark, of Florida, have been variously accused of scheming to defraud, mortgage fraud, falsification of business records and grand larceny, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. The five defendants are accused of cheating homeowners and financial institutions out of $1.1 million.
Prosecutors say the five spent nine years scamming banks and homeowners using inflated home appraisals, falsified loan applications and phony credit reports, the Post-Standard reported.
Assistant State Attorney General Nick DeMartino alleges that Sanders targeted subprime buyers by advertising mortgages as rent-to-own with no down payment. DeMartino’s office would not specify the number of victims of the scam, according to the Post-Standard.
The five defendants are facing charges of second-degree residential mortgage fraud, a somewhat rare criminal charge in New York State. In order to convict for second-degree residential mortgage fraud, the prosecution must prove that the amount stolen was greater than $50,000, according to the Post-Standard.
If convicted, the defendants could each face up to 20 years in prison.