Georgia Man Indicted on Federal Charges, Accused of Using Forged Deeds to Steal Homes
Defendant Allegedly Sold Two Homes in the District of Columbia, Using Fake Identifications
WASHINGTON – Robert McCloud, 37, most recently of Augusta, Ga., has been indicted for allegedly using forged deeds and fake driver’s licenses to defraud homeowners, buyers, and others in a real estate scam, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
McCloud was indicted earlier this year on federal offenses of conspiracy, wire fraud, and mail fraud, and a District of Columbia offense of uttering a forged instrument. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking all proceeds that can be traced to the fraud scheme. He pled not guilty to the charges at his first appearance this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He was ordered held pending a hearing set for Dec. 5, 2017.
According to the indictment, McCloud and other conspirators identified vacant or seemingly abandoned residential properties in the District of Columbia, and then prepared and filed forged deeds with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds transferring the properties into fictitious names. Next, they agreed to sell these properties to legitimate purchasers and arranged with unsuspecting title and escrow companies to finalize the sale and transfer ownership. When the conspirators were successful in finalizing the transactions and closing on the real estate sales, they shared the fraudulently-obtained sales proceeds amongst themselves.
The indictment lists two properties used in the scheme. According to the indictment, in April 2015, McCloud filed a forged Intra-Family deed with the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds purporting to show that a home in the unit block of K Street NW was transferred from the true owners to a fictitious person. The deed contained the forged signatures of both owners. McCloud then allegedly appeared at the title and escrow company pretending to be owner in order to close the transaction, presenting a California driver’s license with his photograph but in the name of the fictitious person, signing the settlement documents and selling the property. The title and escrow company sent by wire transfer $195,527 to a bank account opened in the name of the fictitious person.
Likewise, according to the indictment, in May 2015, a conspirator arranged for a forged deed with respect to another home, in the 6400 block of 16th Street NW, to be filed with the Recorder of Deeds. In June 2015, McCloud allegedly appeared at the title and escrow company pretending to be that owner and using another fake California driver’s license with his photograph. He again signed the settlement documents in the fictitious name, the indictment alleges. The title and escrow company sent by wire transfer $384,955 to a bank account opened in the name of the fictitious person.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Liu and Assistant Director in Charge Vale commended the work performed by those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Diane Lucas and Stephanie Miller, former Paralegal Specialist Christopher Toms, and Paralegal Specialist Aisha Keys. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham who is prosecuting the case.