News and Press Releases

Woodbridge Man Sentenced to 51 Months in Prison for Fraudulent Loan and Credit Schemes

Defendant and associates used forged documents to obtain multiple bank loans and credit cards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Atef Mekki Haj Hassen, 38, of Woodbridge, Va., was sentenced today to 51 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for wire fraud in connection with multiple fraudulent schemes to obtain bank financing, mortgage loans and credit cards.  Hassen will also be required to pay restitution to the victims in the amount of $683,749.10.

Dana J. Boente, Acting 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 after sentencing by United States District Judge Anthony J. Trenga.

“Hassen engaged in a variety of frauds that victimized banks, credit card companies and other lenders,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Boente.  “The kinds of loan fraud in which Hassen so profligately engaged were a microcosm of the activity that led to the collapse of credit nationwide in the fall of 2008 and to economic distress for so many people since that time.”

“Mr. Hassen provided forged and fake documents to multiple financial institutions to gain lines of credit.  Believing that the documents submitted were authentic, these institutions invested in their community and in Mr. Hassen’s small business, but ultimately lost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Assistant Director in Charge Parlave.  “We urge anyone with information about fraud or corruption to come forward and contact the FBI.”

Hassen pleaded guilty to wire fraud on Oct. 7, 2013.

According to court documents, Hassen and his brother-in-law, Atef Ben Amor Amri, operated the New York Pizza Factory, with two locations in Annandale and Fairfax, Va.  In October 2005 and May 2007, Hassen and Amri obtained a total of $240,000 in loans from BB&T Bank to remodel their first restaurant, and to open at their second location.  Hassen and Amri defaulted on both loans, and they then evaded foreclosure by creating a sham transfer of the business to another person.  As a result of this scheme, BB&T Bank lost over $186,000.

Court documents further show that, in June 2008, Hassen obtained a loan from Acacia Federal Savings Bank by inflating his income and assets.  In support of his loan application, Hassen forged documents such as W-2 earnings statements, payroll statements and bank account statements.

In addition to these fraudulent loans, Hassen forged similar documents for others to use in obtaining mortgage loans and credit on their own behalf.  Using forged documents or templates created by Hassen, his associates purchased properties in Woodbridge, Va. and obtained bank and auto loans based on fraudulent pretenses.  Each of those associates— Atef Amri, Henda Bkhairia, Haider Hagui, Khalil Bouzhghaia and Monica Rychel—has pleaded guilty in federal court and will be sentenced later this month.

Court documents further reflect that, from 2005 to 2008, Hassen obtained numerous credit cards by falsely inflating his income.  As a result of Hassen’s fraud, four credit card providers—Bank of America, American Express, Discover and Chase—suffered over $169,000 in losses through 12 separate credit card accounts obtained by Hassen.

In addition, Hassen provided forged documents to several people who used those documents to purchase expensive vehicles, walk away from the loans and then ship the vehicles out of the country.  Hassen also used multiple aliases and identities, including while he arranged a staged auto accident in Washington, D.C. to obtain insurance proceeds for an associate.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Gordon D. Kromberg prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.

 

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