Former Jewelry Store Owner and Loan Officer Charged in $20 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal grand jury has charged Robert Mikail, 40, and Ging-Hwang “Felicia” Tsoa, 58, both of Ashburn, Va., with conspiracy and bank fraud charges related to their alleged roles in a $20 million mortgage fraud scheme involving more than 35 homes.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement.
If convicted, Mikail and Tsoa each face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison on each count of the indictment.
According to the seven-count indictment returned on April 4, 2013, Mikail owned a retail jewelry store in Ashburn, Va. known as Opus Jewelry, and Tsoa worked as a loan officer at First Empire Mortgage, in Fairfax, Virginia, and Lifetime Financial Services, in Herndon, Va.
From 2005 to 2007, Mikail allegedly recruited individuals, known as “straw buyers,” to serve as nominal purchasers in real estate transactions as part of a scheme to profit from fraudulently obtained mortgage loans and the purchase of residential real estate in northern Virginia. In order to get the straw buyers’ loan applications approved and the transactions closed, Mikail, working with Tsoa and other loan officers, allegedly falsified the straw buyers’ loan applications. In particular, all of the fraudulent loan applications falsely designated Mikail’s Opus Jewelry as the borrowers’ employer, which Mikail would then falsely verify to the lenders as part of the loan approval process.
In total, Mikail allegedly engineered the purchase of approximately 36 homes in Ashburn, Va., and obtained from lenders approximately $19,866,150 in loan proceeds on the basis of fraudulent loan applications. While Mikail and Tsoa profited when these homes were purchased, all of the loans ultimately defaulted, resulting in significant losses to the lenders.
Alleged co-conspirator Bing-Sing “Cindy” Wang, the owner of Lifetime Financial Services, pleaded guilty to related charges on Nov. 20, 2012, and was sentenced to 24 months in prison on Feb. 26, 2013.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant United States Attorney Paul J. Nathanson is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.