Senior Loan Officer with Metropolitan Money Store Indicted in Mortgage Fraud Scheme
Greenbelt, Maryland - A federal grand jury has indicted Rolando Alonzo Cousins, a/k/a “Junior,” age 31, of Bowie, Maryland, for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, in connection with a massive mortgage fraud scheme which promised to help homeowners facing foreclosure keep their homes and repair their damaged credit, but left them homeless and with no equity. The indictment was returned on March 8, 2010. Cousins was arrested today and is scheduled to have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt today at 3:30 p.m.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Irvine of the U.S. Secret Service - Washington Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Barbara Golden of the U.S. Secret Service - Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge C. André Martin of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation; and Sarah Bloom Raskin, Commissioner of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Financial Regulation.
According to the 11 count indictment, Cousins was a Senior Loan Officer with the Metropolitan Money Store (MMS), located in Lanham, Maryland, which offered foreclosure consultation and credit services to financially distressed homeowners. Cousins also owned and operated Prosper Investments LLC. In 2005, Joy Jackson and Jennifer McCall incorporated Metropolitan Money Store. Also at that time, Jackson, Jennifer McCall, Jackson’s husband, Kurt Forham, and McCall’s husband, Clifford McCall and others incorporated Fordham & Fordham Investment Group, Ltd. (F&F) and Burroughs & Smythe Financial Services, Inc. (B&S), based in Lanham and Greenbelt, Maryland, to assist Metropolitan Money Store in its foreclosure consulting and credit servicing business.
The indictment alleges that from September 2004 through June, 2007, Cousins, Jackson, McCall and others, operating through several companies, including the Metropolitan Money Store, fraudulently promised to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, keep their homes and repair their damaged credit, by directing the homeowners to allow title to their homes to be put in the names of third party purchasers (the straw buyers) for a one year period, during which time the defendants would help the homeowners obtain more favorable mortgages, improve their credit rating and eventually return title to their homes to them. Cousins, Jackson, McCall and others told the homeowners that the equity withdrawn from the properties would be used to pay the mortgage and expenses on their homes and to repair their credit.
In fact, the indictment alleges that Cousins, Jackson, McCall and others: paid approximately $10,000 to each of the straw buyers to participate in the scheme; fraudulently bolstered the credit of the straw buyers so they could qualify for more favorable mortgages; obtained fraudulently inflated loans on the properties in the straw buyers names; served as straw buyers themselves; stripped away the bulk of the homeowners equity proceeds and converted that money to their own personal use; and stopped making the mortgage payments on the homes, resulting in the homes being foreclosed upon.
The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of $1.5 million, alleged to be Cousins’ proceeds from the scheme.
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein expressed special appreciation to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Financial Regulation Investigative Unit for their assistance in the investigation.
Cousins faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the conspiracy and each of the two mail fraud counts; 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of eight counts of money laundering.
Joy Jackson and Jennifer McCall pleaded guilty to their role in the scheme and were sentenced to 151 months in prison and 135 months in prison, respectively. Nine other co-conspirators also pleaded guilty and were sentenced.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys James A. Crowell IV and Christen Sproule, who are prosecuting the case.