BELLEVUE COUPLE INDICTED FOR MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME
Couple Obtained More than $27 Million in Fraudulent Loans on 54 Home Sales
A Bellevue couple are under arrest this morning following their indictment yesterday for Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and three counts of Wire Fraud. The indictment returned by the federal grand jury alleges the couple executed a scheme where they would use straw buyers to purchase homes for a price above the homes’ actual value. The homeowners agreed to accept the inflated price, while returning the excess to a company that was, in fact, controlled by the defendants. In one case, the amount skimmed by the defendants through their company was more than $700,000. The indictment alleges the couple obtained more than $27 million in fraudulent loans on 54 different transactions.
CHRISTOPHER G. BROOKS, 38, and AMANI R. MOSS, 36, both of Bellevue, Washington, are alleged to have executed this scheme between January 2005, and May 2007, while working as mortgage brokers. The couple created and licensed a business called Peachtree Development. Working with other co-conspirators, the couple identified properties where the seller would be willing to overstate the sales price, with the difference between the true sales price and the overstated price going to Peachtree Development. BROOKS and MOSS would recruit straw buyers who had good credit to “purchase” the homes at the inflated price. The straw buyers would be paid $7,000 to $10,000. BROOKS and MOSS would prepare false mortgage loan documents on behalf of the straw buyers and submit them to the lenders falsifying the straw buyers’ income and employment. The lenders made inflated loans to the straw buyers, the home seller was paid off, with the excess going to Peachtree Development. Ultimately, the straw buyers would default on the loans, leaving the lenders with significant losses.
Among the examples cited in the indictment was the sale of a home at 838 NE 86th Street, Seattle, Washington. The amount of the loan was $474,210. BROOKS and MOSS received $63,000 of the loan proceeds. The couple claimed in loan documents that the straw buyer planned to live in the home, made more than $11,000 per month in income and was employed by a biotech firm. None of those statements were true. In January 2006, the couple were involved in the sale of a home at 6507 240th Way NE, Redmond, Washington. The loan was for $1,685,000, with $778,000 of the loan proceeds being returned to BROOKS and MOSS. In that instance the pair submitted phony paperwork indicating the buyer had a monthly income of more than $100,000. The indictment details additional transactions in Seattle, Federal Way, Issaquah, Mukilteo, Sammamish, Tacoma, Covington, Kenmore and Black Diamond. The amount allegedly pocketed by BROOKS and MOSS on just the transactions listed in the indictment is more than $1.6 million.
The couple will make their first appearance in federal court on the indictment this afternoon at 2:30 in front of Magistrate Judge John Weinberg. Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud as well as Wire Fraud itself is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Katheryn Kim Frierson and Darwin Roberts.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office at (206) 553-4110.