News

Senior Loan Officer with Metropolitan Money Store Sentenced to over 3 Years in Prison in Mortgage Fraud Scheme


Eleventh and Final Defendant Sentenced in the Metropolitan Money Store Case

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2010

Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus sentenced Rolando Alonzo Cousins, a/k/a “Junior,” age 32, of Bowie, Maryland, today to 38 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud 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. Judge Titus also ordered that Cousins pay restitution of $471,702.25. With Cousins’ sentencing all 11 defendants in the Metropolitan Money Store case have now been convicted and sentenced.

The sentence 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 Rebecca Sparkman 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 Cousins’ plea agreement, he was the senior loan officer with the Metropolitan Money Store, 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 Fordham, 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.

Cousins admitted that from September 2004 through June 2007, he, 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.

Cousins and other Metropolitan Money Store employees were paid approximately $10,000 to personally serve as straw buyers on several properties in Maryland, because they had good credit history. As part of the scheme, Cousins and his co-conspirators 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 total loss attributable to Cousins from the scheme, including the estimated losses to the mortgage lenders, is $471,702.

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 its assistance in the investigation.

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 have pleaded guilty and been sentenced.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the FBI, U.S. Secret Service and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation for their work in this investigation and commended Assistant United States Attorneys James A. Crowell IV and Christen Sproule, who prosecuted the case.

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