Two Georgia Real Estate Investors Indicted for Bid Rigging and Bank Fraud at Public Home Foreclosure Auctions
A federal grand jury in Atlanta charged in separate indictments two real estate investors with bid rigging and bank fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions in Georgia, the Justice Department announced today.
Real estate investor Douglas L. Purdy has been charged with one count of bid rigging and five counts of bank fraud for participating in the alleged conspiracy and scheme at Forsyth County, Georgia, foreclosure auctions from 2008 to 2012. Clifford Wayne Hill was charged with one count of bid rigging and seven counts of bank fraud related to public foreclosure auctions in Gwinnett County, Georgia, from 2007 to 2012. The defendants and their co-conspirators allegedly rigged bids at public foreclosure auctions and defrauded banks that owned the mortgage notes. Among other methods, the conspirators allegedly held secret “second auctions” of properties they had obtained through rigged bids, dividing the auction proceeds that should have gone to pay off debts against the properties and, in some cases, to homeowners who had defaulted.
“These defendants corrupted public foreclosure auctions in Georgia to keep for themselves money that rightfully belonged to banks and homeowners,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Those who illegally enrich themselves at the expense of financially distressed homeowners and their lenders should be held accountable for their crimes.”
“The FBI continues its work with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division in ridding corrupt activities within the public real estate foreclosure auction process in Georgia,” said Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office. “The additional federal indictments of these two real estate investors illustrate not only the scope of the problem but also the federal efforts to address it. Anyone with information regarding such criminal activity as alleged here should contact their nearest FBI field office.”
An indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Including the indictments filed today in the Northern District of Georgia, 14 defendants have been charged in connection with the department’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraudulent schemes involving real estate foreclosure auctions in the Atlanta area; 12 have pleaded guilty.
These charges have been filed as a result of the ongoing investigation being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal II Section, the FBI’s Atlanta Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia, in connection with the president’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The president established the task force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information about the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Washington Criminal II Section of the Antitrust Division at 202-598-4000, call the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258, or visit http://www.justice.gov/atr/report-violations.