News and Press Releases

“Straw Buyers” Purchased Homes and Submitted False Documents to Get Cash above Property Value

December 11, 2006

AKRAM ASWAD ALMUSSA, 29, of Kirkland, Washington was convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and seven counts of Wire Fraud on Friday December 8, 2006 following an eight day jury trial. The jury deliberated about four hours before finding ALMUSSA guilty on all counts. ALMUSSA will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly on March 9, 2007.

ALMUSSA was arrested in September 2005, and was indicted by a grand jury in October 2005, for the mortgage fraud scheme. ALMUSSA was a loan officer with Compass Mortgage. Using his knowledge of lending practices, ALMUSSA entered into a scheme with others to recruit straw buyers, falsify loan documents, and “flip” properties so that he could get financing from lenders above the value of the properties. The scheme allowed ALMUSSA, who had recently gone through bankruptcy, to essentially speculate in the real estate market while using the lenders’ money. A key co-conspirator in the case, Josh Kebede, has already pleaded guilty in the scheme and testified at trial. Kebede is scheduled to be sentenced January 18, 2007.

As a loan officer ALMUSSA filled out the paperwork for each of the straw buyers. In each of ten transactions ALMUSSA also indicated that the straw buyer was planning to live in the home. In some instances the buyers had never seen the homes and did not even know where they were located. The straw buyers were paid thousands of dollars for the use of their personal identifying information on the loan documents.

The case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Vincent T. Lombardi and Kathryn Kim Frierson.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office at (206) 553-4110.

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