REAL ESTATE AGENT SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR DEFRAUDING BANK IN SHORT SALE MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that SERGIO NATERA, 37, of Bridgeport, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Judge Janet C. Hall in Bridgeport to two months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his involvement in a “short sale” mortgage fraud scheme.
A short sale transaction involves a mortgage holder or lender entering into an agreement to release its mortgage or lien on real property in exchange for payment of less than the total amount owed on the underlying debt. Many short sale transactions are legitimate.
According to court documents and statements made in court, NATERA and Anna McElaney, both real estate agents, defrauded Regions Bank, which held two mortgages on a residential property in Bridgeport. On December 5, 2007, McElaney, who was a listing agent for the property, received an offer to purchase the property for a price of $132,500. However, NATERA and McElaney informed Regions Bank that the highest offer to purchase the property was for $102,375 and that it was made by BOS Asset Management, LLC. NATERA and McElaney concealed from Regions Bank that there was a higher offer by another bidder, that NATERA owned BOS Asset Management, LLC, and that NATERA and McElaney planned to keep the difference between the two prices. Based on the false and incomplete information provided to it, Regions Bank agreed to the short sale for the lower price, and released its mortgages on the property.
On June 9, 2008, NATERA and McElaney arranged for two sales of the property to occur on the same day. The first sale was from the owner of the property to BOS Asset Management, LLC for $102,375; the second sale was from BOS Asset Management, LLC to the original bidder on the property for $132,500. NATERA and McElaney retained the difference between the two sale prices.
In February 2010, NATERA and McElaney each pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. On July 25, 2011, McElaney was sentenced to eight months of imprisonment and six months of home confinement.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ann M. Nevins.
In July 2009, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the formation of the Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud cases and related financial crimes occurring in Connecticut. Citizens are encouraged to report any suspected mortgage fraud activity by calling 203-333-3512 and requesting the Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force includes representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General, and State of Connecticut Department of Banking.
To report financial fraud crimes, and to learn more about the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.
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