Real Estate Agent Indicted On Fraud And Theft Charges
In Alleged Scam Involving Clients’ Deposits
-Defendant Allegedly Used Clients’ Money for Own Expenses-
WASHINGTON – Mark Alan Wall, 56, a real estate agent and broker from Washington, D.C., has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges stemming from a scheme in which he allegedly stole over $300,000 from clients who were seeking to purchase homes and other clients who loaned him money for real estate closings and other reasons.
The indictment, returned on Nov. 4, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was announced today by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
The grand jury indicted Wall on three federal offenses, including one count each of mail fraud, interstate transportation of money taken by fraud, and money laundering. The indictment also includes two counts of first-degree theft, which are District of Columbia offenses. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking all proceeds from the crimes.
Wall was arrested today and pled not guilty at a court appearance this afternoon.
According to the indictment, Wall owned and operated a business by the name of “Woof Real Estate,” and advertised himself as capable in assisting buyers in finding and purchasing residential real estate. As a licensed real estate agent and broker, Wall would from time to time receive clients’ money to be held for them in trust. Brokers must keep such funds in a separate escrow bank account. Typically, when buyers of real estate make offers, they put down some money as a deposit as a show of their earnest interest in purchasing the property. This money, referred to as an “earnest money deposit,” is to go into an escrow account. If the offers are accepted, the money then becomes part of the buyers’ down payments.
From in or about July 2010 through at least May 2013, according to the indictment, Wall convinced his clients to provide amounts greater than typically used as their earnest money deposits, claiming that he would hold the money in escrow for their benefit to demonstrate that they had sufficient money to close on future sales. At times, he convinced them to make additional deposits, saying that would strengthen their negotiating power for future offers.
The indictment alleges that Wall did not maintain his clients’ money for their benefit. Instead, the indictment alleges, he spent it on himself and his expenses within a few weeks or months of receiving the funds.
An indictment is merely a formal allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
In announcing the indictment, U.S. Attorney Machen and Chief Lanier commended the work of those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. They also expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Arvind K. Lal, who is assisting with forfeiture issues, Paralegal Specialist Kristy Penny, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who is prosecuting the case.