Mortgage fraudster hit with 14.5-year sentence

by Michael Mata30 Sep 2016
Rachel Siders, a former notary public from Roseville, was recently sentenced to 14-and-a-half years in prison by US District Judge John A. Mendez. Siders was convicted for her involvement in mortgage fraud schemes that cost financial institutions north of $17 million.

According to the official press release from the Sacramento office of Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert, federal juries returned their verdicts in two trials—the first in March 2015 and the second in December 2015. Siders was found guilty of multiple counts of bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, making a false loan application, and committing aggravated identity theft. 

According to evidence from the first trial, Siders and her co-defendant, Theo Adams, applied for a home equity line of credit in 2008. The pair used the name of one of Adams’ relatives on an underwater Roseville property owned by Adams. They submitted false tax returns in the relative’s name with inflated income as well as mortgage application documents that contained forged signatures.

Siders falsely notarized the loan application documents, which were sent to Washington Mutual Bank. The bank approved the application and provided a $250,000 line of credit, with Siders receiving $170,000 of the proceeds. The pair soon defaulted after making minimal payments on the loan.

According to evidence from the second trial, from mid-2006 through early 2008, Siders, Vera Kuzmenko (a licensed real estate agent from Loomis), and other defendants engaged in a mortgage fraud scheme. The group secured more than $30 million in residential mortgage loans on more than 30 homes in Sacramento. The homes were purchased through straw buyers.

Kuzmenko received millions from the fraud scheme, while Siders received hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Siders ran the Rocklin office of the escrow company used in the majority of the transactions, helping funnel millions of dollars to her co-defendants.

“[Siders] abused her position as an escrow officer and as a notary public to make this criminal enterprise succeed,” said Talbert. “The sentence imposed is a significant reminder that those who engage in such conduct will be held accountable.”  

“Anyone [who] profits from fraudulent mortgage transactions—whether by creating the scheme or facilitating it—will not escape justice,” said Supervisory Special Agent Dan Bryant at the FBI Sacramento field office. “The FBI aggressively pursues those involved in such large-scale, complex financial fraud matters to seek justice for the victims and protect the regional economy.”

Siders’ co-defendants were also convicted in court and given different prison sentences.

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