GHANAIAN CITIZEN ARRESTED ON MORTGAGE FRAUD CHARGES INVOLVING 16 WORCESTER PROPERTIES
BOSTON, Mass. - A citizen of Ghana was charged in federal court with wire fraud involving millions of dollars for selling at least 16 condominium units to straw buyers who he recruited for the purpose of obtaining mortgage loans based on false loan applications.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Robert Bethel, Postal Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division; and Steven D. Ricciardi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Boston Field Office announced today that ROWLAND KOJO ADJEI SAPONG, 40, of the Republic of Ghana, was charged in a complaint with wire fraud on multiple occasions.
The complaint which was filed on August 12, 2010, and unsealed today alleges that between 2002 and 2007, SAPONG bought 16 properties in the Worcester area, and divided nearly all of them into sub-units which he then resold. After purchasing the properties, SAPONG converted each home into two or more condominiums, and then made a substantial profit by selling each one to a buyer who was recruited specifically to carry out SAPONG’s scheme to defraud. SAPONG arranged for the buyers to apply for residential mortgage loans even though they never intended to live in the properties. The loan applications included a variety of false representations, including grossly overstated income, bogus bank account balances and phony employment. SAPONG led the buyers to believe that there would be sufficient rent payments from tenants in the units to cover their mortgages. In fact, the buyers ultimately made few or no payments on the properties, which eventually lapsed into foreclosure.
With the assistance of the West Boylston Police Department, SAPONG was arrested yesterday at a residence in West Boylston. If convicted of the charges, SAPONG faces up to 20 years imprisonment on each of the wire fraud counts to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for each count.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and U.S. Secret Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling of Ortiz's Economic Crimes Unit.
The details contained in the complaint and affidavit are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Mortgage fraud is a key focus of the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice alongside its federal, state and local partners is committed to investigating and prosecuting significant financial crimes. The Department is committed to combating discrimination and fraud in the lending and financial markets, and recovering proceeds for victims of financial crimes.