LEADER OF $47 MILLION MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME SENTENCED TO PRISON
Mortgage Fraud Scheme Used Web of Companies and False Loan Documents
VIKTOR KOBZAR, 32, of Federal Way, a mortgage broker, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison and three years of supervised release for conspiring to commit bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud and filing a false personal income tax return. KOBZAR was a mortgage broker who, with co-defendant Vladislav A. Baydovskiy, operated two brokerage companies, Nationwide Home Lending LLC and Kobay Financial Corporation; and established a third company, Emerald City Escrow, to close transactions involving the fraudulently obtained loans. KOBZAR was one of six people arrested March 26, 2009, on a grand jury indictment for a mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded more than a dozen banks and mortgage lenders of more than $47 million. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman said, “This is a very serious crime and many, many people were harmed... People who take advantage of lax review by financial regulators bear a huge responsibility for the financial meltdown that harmed many people.”
According to records filed in the case the defendants secured through “straw buyers” and otherwise unqualified purchasers at least sixty-eight loans, representing at least $46 million in loan proceeds, based on false and fraudulent representations. All of the fraudulently obtained loans were closed at Emerald City Escrow. Employees and principals at Kobay and Nationwide prepared and submitted falsified loan applications and related verification documents to lenders in a scheme to conceal the fact that buyers were otherwise unqualified to obtain purchase money loans. Relying on the fraudulent information, lenders extended loans that exceeded the value of the property and the borrower’s ability to re-pay the loan. Employees and principals of Emerald City diverted some of the fraudulently obtained loan proceeds to themselves and others associated with the scheme. False settlement documents were prepared to conceal the diversion from lenders.
For sentencing purposes, prosecutors estimated that the amount of loss suffered by banks and lenders was between $2.5 million and $7 million. However, they noted in their sentencing memo that the damage from these mortgage fraud schemes goes far beyond the lenders. “Fraud perpetrated by those involved in the mortgage lending industry has caused massive losses to lenders and is responsible for the failure of banks and private lending institutions. Investors in mortgage backed securities have lost funds needed for income and retirement. Home values have been distorted by inflated appraisals leading to a shortage of affordable housing. Foreclosures caused by mortgage fraud have riddled neighborhoods with abandoned houses and properties in disrepair,” Assistant United States Attorney James Oesterle wrote in his sentencing memo.
Defendants in the case are forfeiting to the government a 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo, a 2006 BMW 750, a 2007 BMW X5, a 31 foot Bayliner yacht, and several bank and investment accounts totaling approximately $2.4 million. A hearing will be held later this month to determine the amount of restitution owed by the defendants.
Last month co-defendant Vladislav A. Baydovskiy was sentenced to five years in prison. Four other defendants in the case were sentenced in December 2009. Camie Byron, 28, of Renton, a loan officer, was sentenced to two years in prison. Alla Sobol, 28, of Renton, a mortgage broker, was sentenced to two years in prison and her husband, David Sobol, 40, of Issaquah, a real estate agent, was also sentenced to two years in prison. Sandra Thorpe, 55, of Shoreline, an accountant who falsified income statements and employment verification letters, was sentenced to probation and 200 hours of community service.
The case was investigated by the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jim Oesterle and Carl Blackstone.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.