Former loan officer sentenced in Ponzi scheme

by Ryan Smith21 Jan 2014
A former Nevada loan officer has been sentenced to more than six years in prison after pleading guilty in a mortgage-related Ponzi scam.

Kamalu Gonzales, 47, was sentenced to 78 months in prison and ordered to pay $830,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to two counts of mail fraud, six counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

According to prosecutors, Gonzales worked as a loan officer for mortgage refinancing firm Meridias Capital. He recruited investors through the firm, claiming to be an investor and trader in foreign currency. Gonzales also falsified mortgage applications to obtain money and refinancing for which the applicants wouldn’t otherwise have qualified, the Sun reported. In some cases, Gonzales convinced victims to invest money with him that he had just gotten for them through the fraudulent loan applications, the Sun reported.

Gonzales received about $1 million from 16 victims between 2007 and 2008, diverting more than $400,000 of that for his own use, the Sun reported.  Rather than paying investors dividends from his so-called foreign currency market investments, he paid them with money from later investors.

“Prosecuting persons who commit financial fraud crimes is a top priority of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Nevada," U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said in a statement. “Many of these persons target elderly and other vulnerable victims. If someone promises you an investment opportunity with unusually high rates of return, it is likely that the opportunity is fraudulent and that you will lose your money.”


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