Third Defendant Pleads Guilty in Metropolitan Money Store Mortgage Fraud Scheme
Ten Defendants Now Charged in Scheme to Take Title of Homes from Financially Distressed Homeowners and Secretly Use Home Equity for Personal Benefit
Greenbelt, Maryland - Carlisha Dixon, age 31, of Hyattsville, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme which falsely promised to help homeowners facing foreclosure keep their homes and repair their damaged credit, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
“If someone asks you to sign over your home and promises to deed it back to you in the future, you probably are the victim of a scam,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Foreclosure prevention schemes benefit con artists, not homeowners.”
According to her plea agreement, Dixon was the vice president and a director of Burroughs & Smythe Financial Services, Inc., based in Lanham, Maryland. Burroughs & Smythe assisted the Metropolitan Money Store, located in Lanham, Maryland, in offering foreclosure consultation and credit services to financially distressed homeowners.
Beginning in September 2004, associates of Dixon conspired in a scheme to fraudulently promise to help homeowners, who had substantial equity in their homes but were facing foreclosure because of their inability to make monthly mortgage payments, avoid foreclosure and repair their damaged credit. The homeowners were directed to allow title to their homes to be put in the names of third party purchasers (the straw buyers) for a year, during which time Metropolitan Money Store promised to improve the homeowners’ credit ratings, help them obtain more favorable mortgages, and eventually return title to their homes to them. The homeowners were told that the equity withdrawn from the properties would be used to pay the mortgage and expenses on their homes and to repair their credit. The straw buyers were paid $10,000 to participate in the scheme.
Beginning in November 2005, Dixon agreed to participate in the conspiracy and scheme by serving as a straw buyer for two properties in Maryland: 1885 Iverson St., Temple Hills; and 2401Kent Village Place, Hyattsville. In return, Dixon was paid $10,700. Her associates also paid Dixon’s mortgage on her personal residence several times, which was approximately $2,200 per month, Dixon’s airfare and hotel expenses for a trip to Miami, a rental car and a refrigerator.
Dixon further participated in the scheme when in May 2006, she was hired to run Burroughs & Smythe, even though she had no prior background in credit repair or financial services. Dixon was paid $1,300 every two weeks. During the course of her employment from May 2006 to March 2007, Dixon, Clifford McCall and another associate deposited at least $1,553,152.19 into the company’s bank accounts, some of which was used to pay personal expenses of Dixon’s associates. Dixon fraudulently signed multiple verifications of rent or employment listed in the names of straw buyers, and falsely confirmed the straw buyer’s rent or employment when a lender would call to verify the information. Dixon also obtained cashier’s checks drawn on Burroughs & Smythe bank accounts in the names of straw buyers and Metropolitan Money Store employees to facilitate the conspiracy and scheme to defraud.
The total losses attributable to Dixon in connection with the conspiracy and scheme to defraud is between $200,000and $400,000.
Dixon faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus scheduled sentencing for September 14, 2009 at 3:00 p.m.
Dixon is the third defendant to plead guilty in the Metropolitan Money Store mortgage fraud scheme, and the tenth defendant to be charged in this scheme. Richard Allison, age 37, of Camp Springs, Maryland, an attorney and employee of the U.S. Census Bureau, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy on September 3, 2008 and is scheduled to be sentenced on September 14, 2009. Clifford McCall, age 47, of Lanham, Maryland, pleaded guilty on September 17, 2008 to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and is also scheduled to be sentenced on September 14, 2009.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s Division of Financial Regulation Investigative Unit for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney James A. Crowell IV, who is prosecuting the case.