Leader Of Real Estate Flipping Scheme Indicted
May 13, 2014
Tampa, FL – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the return by a grand jury of an indictment charging Stephen Mayer (50, Miami Beach) with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. If convicted, Mayer faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. The indictment also notifies Mayer that the United States intends to forfeit any assets that are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offense.
On April 29, 2014, Mayer was arrested on a federal complaint and detained in Miami.
According to court documents, Mayer engineered a complex real estate flipping scheme involving different participants and shell companies under his control. From approximately September 18, 2003 and continuing through at least September 14, 2007, Mayer defrauded lenders by causing mortgages to be issued based on fraudulent information provided by several “straw buyers” whom he recruited. Mayer facilitated the scheme utilizing several Florida corporations, including InvestFund Corp USA, Inc., and Regal Windsor Homes, Inc.
Between September and March 2005, Mayer bought at least 24 properties in Hillsborough County for approximately $2,341,000. He resold these same properties, usually on the same day, to his “investors” for approximately $3,723,290. The transactions resulted in a net profit of approximately $1,528,790. The purchasers of these properties, known as “straw buyers,” were recruited by Mayer to utilize their good credit in order to obtain mortgage loans for purchases. The “straw buyers” subsequently transferred the titles back to Mayer, and/or one of Mayer’s companies, by quit claim deed. Mayer would facilitate the transfer of properties between his various investors, each time inflating the prices. When these properties were later resold at even greater prices, Mayer again profited from the sales. The total loss to the affected lenders exceeds $2.75 million.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kelley Howard-Allen and Mandy Riedel.