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Press Release

Maryland Woman Pleads Guilty to Real Estate Bank Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Ft. Washington, Maryland, woman pleaded guilty today to bank fraud.

According to court documents, from at least August of 2012 through April 2019, Maria Esperansa Salgado, 64, devised a scheme to defraud a mortgage lender into agreeing to a short sale, or pre-foreclosure sale, of a residential property in Alexandria that was pending foreclosure for non-payment of the mortgage. The defendant and her brother had purchased and lived in the property for about ten years. 

After filing a Chapter 7 petition for bankruptcy to discharge her debts in 2013, Salgado used the identity of an unsuspecting victim to obtain a home mortgage from a lender. Salgado then entered into fraudulent sales contracts with straw purchasers and the victim to make it appear as if she was selling the property to third parties as part of an arms-length transaction. A straw purchaser is someone who buys a property on behalf of another person when the real buyer cannot complete the transaction. The fraudulent sales contracts made it appear as if the straw purchasers and the victim were buying the house on behalf of themselves. In truth, Salgado’s intention was to retain ownership of the property and the proceeds from the fraudulent short sale.

In 2015, Salgado executed a fraudulent refinance of the property using the name of straw purchasers and kept the proceeds. The victim was unaware of the re-finance.  In 2019, Salgado used a nominee owner to sell the property to a third-party buyer. Salgado and the nominee owner received the proceeds of the fraudulent sale and paid off the remaining loan balance and used a portion to purchase a new property in Ft. Washington, Maryland.

To date, the victim has been unable to qualify for a loan to purchase her own home because of the fraudulent mortgage taken out in her name. The scheme also resulted in $146,188 of loss to the mortgage lender. As part of her plea agreement, Salgado agreed to pay restitution to the victim and to forfeit the proceeds of the bank fraud.

Salgado is scheduled to be sentenced on February 21, 2024. She faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Javan Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Inspector General, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Rossie D. Alston, Jr. accepted the plea.

The Fairfax County Police Department, the Arlington County Police Department, the Prince William County Police Department, the City of Hyattsville (MD) Police Department - Criminal Investigations Section, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations also provided significant assistance in this investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Riley Pedersen is prosecuting the case. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Carina Cuellar provided significant assistance to the investigation and prosecution of this case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:23-cr-154.

Updated October 25, 2023

Financial Fraud
Mortgage Fraud