Unlicensed appraiser jailed for mortgage fraud

by Ryan Smith13 Feb 2014
An unlicensed Pennsylvania appraiser has been sentenced to 8 years in prison for his role in two mortgage fraud scams.

Jason Moreno, 30, was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in the schemes, which stretched from 2005 to 2007, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Moreno owned and operated Platinum Appraisal Services, which prosecutors say regularly prepared fraudulent appraisals that overstated property values for two separate mortgage scammers. The first was engineered by Robert Arakelian, operator of Pittsburgh Home Loans, the second by James Platts, who operated Easy Realty Solutions.

In both scams, the sales price of property would be overstated to fraudulently claim that borrowers had sufficient assets to make significant down payments and mortgage payments on other properties. However, the borrowers, “many of whom were unsophisticated and had poor financial conditions,” lacked the ability to make those payments, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Moreno’s role in the scam was to provide phony appraisals of properties serving as collateral for the loans. Often, his appraisals would report that the condition of a property was vastly superior to its actual condition. “Many of the properties were, in fact, in deplorable condition,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Moreno, who was not licensed to perform appraisals, also fraudulently claimed to have the proper licensing.

Moreno must serve an additional three years of supervised release after his prison sentence is up, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.    


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