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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 15, 2021

Settlement Agent Pleads Guilty to Misappropriating Closing Funds

NORFOLK, Va. – The former president of an escrow and title company pleaded guilty today to misappropriating $715,000 of closing funds in connection with 48 real estate transactions for which she served as the settlement agent.

According to court documents, Tammy Hamrin, formerly known as Tammy A. Cheek, 57, of Virginia Beach, was a licensed title and settlement agent and was the president, secretary, and treasurer of Preferred Escrow and Title, Inc. During 48 real estate transactions, Hamrin misappropriated $715,000 of closing funds that had been deposited by various lenders and individual buyers into the company’s escrow account. She did so by making seven unauthorized wire transfers of funds from the escrow account to certain entities at the request of a person with whom Hamrin had an online personal relationship.

During this period, Hamrin partially replenished the funds that she had misappropriated by depositing approximately $199,000 of her own money into the escrow account, resulting in a remaining shortage of approximately $516,000. As a result, all 48 closings were affected. Among others, losses were sustained by sellers, buyers, business entities, financial institutions, various lienholders, municipal clerks of court and treasurer offices, and a title insurance company.

Hamrin pleaded guilty to wire fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 26. 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.

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan M. Salsbury is prosecuting the 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. 2:21-cr-2.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
Press Office USAVAE.Press@usdoj.gov
Updated March 15, 2021