News and Press Releases

credit history fraud alleged in $2.7 million Lee's Summit mortgage scheme
california woman, florida man first in nation to be indicted

August 4, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a California woman and a Florida man were indicted by a federal grand jury today for their roles in a credit history fraud that allegedly contributed to a nearly $3 million mortgage fraud scheme in Lee’s Summit, Mo.

“Credit history fraud is a new and troubling criminal scheme,” Phillips said. “By supplying false credit information, they artificially boost credit scores and create a fraudulent credit history that enables their customers to commit financial fraud. This federal indictment marks the first time nationwide that the suppliers have been charged in a credit history fraud case, and signals our determination to prevent such schemes from proliferating.”

Karen Washam-Hawkins, 48, of Carson, Calif., and Gerald William Bartlett, 38, of Tampa, Fla., were charged in a six-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo.

Washam-Hawkins, a real estate agent, allegedly obtained and sold false Social Security numbers to enable individuals to create false credit histories in order to deceive lenders and obtain loans. Bartlett, through his Tampa businesses, provided fraudulent account and payment information to a credit bureau to falsely enhance the creditworthiness of individuals in order for those individuals to deceive lenders and obtain loans.

According to today’s indictment, beginning in late 2004 to early 2005 and continuing through Aug. 15, 2006, several customers of Washam-Hawkins and Bartlett benefitted from the credit history fraud scheme in order to fraudulently purchase six properties in Lee’s Summit in a mortgage fraud scheme totaling $2,717,420.

Washam-Hawkins allegedly supplied Shade Jerome Howard of Anaheim,Calif., with false Social Security numbers. Howard then gave Bartlett those false Social Security numbers, along with other identity information, and requested positive credit information for those individuals in order to enhance their creditworthiness. Bartlett, using the names South Florida Management Group and Consumer Financial Group, allegedly reported false account and payment information to a credit bureau.

According to today’s indictment, this scheme allowed Howard, along with Ronald E. Brown, Jr., of Gladstone, Mo., and Daryle A. Edwards of Overland Park, Kan., to enhance their creditworthiness in order to deceive lenders and obtain mortgage loans for residential properties in Lee’s Summit. Brown purchased three residential properties totaling $1,339,700. Howard purchased two residential properties totaling $1,201,000. Edwards purchased a residential property for $418,500.

In addition to the conspiracy, today’s indictment charges Washam-Hawkins and Bartlett with three counts of transferring funds obtained by fraud across state lines. Washam-Hawkins is also charged with two counts of wire fraud.

Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Parker Marshall. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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