News and Press Releases

FOUR CHARGED IN IDENTITY THEFT MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2010

Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, and James K. Loftus, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department, announced today that, on March 18, 2010, a federal grand jury returned a four count indictment charging Marcos Salazar, Elaine Power, Carlos Gonzalez, and Alvaro Zambrana with a mortgage fraud scheme, using the stolen identification information of another individual, which resulted in the approval and disbursement of two mortgages from JPMorgan Chase Bank, totaling approximately $610,000. Defendants Salazar, Gonzalez, and Zambrana were arrested and made their initial appearances in federal court today. Defendant Power remains at large.

According to the indictment, Power identified a property to be used for the fraud, and Gonzalez caused the sellers of the property to execute a sales contract that inflated the price of the property to $610,000 although the sellers were seeking to sell the property for only $470,000. Power enlisted the assistance of another co-conspirator, Fielding Dameron, who previously was indicted and convicted, to prepare a fraudulent appraisal to falsely inflate the value of the property and fraudulently justify the $610,000 sales price to the lender.

According to the indictment, Power and Gonzalez then prepared fraudulent loan applications and submitted them to the lender along with the false appraisal. To prepare and process the loan applications, the name and social security number of another individual were used without that person’s knowledge, input or authority. Power and Gonzalez listed a false employment in the loan applications, and Gonzalez recruited Zambrana to falsely verify to the lender that the purported borrower worked for Zambrana at his business.

The indictment further alleges that at closing, Salazar posed as the purported borrower. Salazar presented a driver’s license with his picture and the personal identification information of the purported borrower and signed all of the closing documents in the name of the purported borrower. Power and another co-conspirator previously had arranged to have the fraudulent identification created with Salazar’s photo.

After JPMorgan Chase approved the loans, the co-conspirators allegedly cashed out and shared the difference between the actual and the inflated sales prices. The loans went into default shortly thereafter, and the property is in foreclosure.

The defendants have been charged with a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349 and 1344. Salazar and Power also have been charged with aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A.

Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the Miami-Dade Police Department, Economic Crimes Bureau, U.S. Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the other law enforcement agencies comprising the Mortgage Fraud Strike Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph B. Shumofsky.

An Indictment is only an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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