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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Monday, February 2, 2015

Mastermind of Equity Skimming Scheme Convicted at Trial

Tampa, FL – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that a federal jury has found Stephen Mayer (51, Miami) guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution and nine counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution. He faces up to 30 years in federal prison on each count. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 5, 2015. Mayer was indicted on May 13, 2014.

According to evidence presented at trial, Mayer used a variety of shell companies that he controlled to purchase distressed properties. He then flipped the properties the same day or within days to “credit partners” for an increased price, and kept the proceeds. These “credit partners” were recruited by Mayer because they had good credit and were willing to sign documents. The partners never intended to live in the properties or make any mortgage payments. In exchange for helping him get the mortgages, Mayer would pay the down payment and mortgage, and pay the “credit partners” a commission from his proceeds.

Mayer also facilitated the securing of mortgages, many from FDIC-insured lenders, based on false information about the borrowers’ income, employment, and assets. Mayer instructed the “credit partners” to deed the properties back to him and/or companies under his control so that he could flip them again to other “credit partners” at increased prices, thereby skimming the equity. Mayer failed to make mortgage payments as promised, and each of the properties ultimately went into foreclosure. He used the proceeds from his real estate flipping scheme to fund a lavish personal lifestyle. Agents identified more than 20 homes used by Mayer in this flipping conspiracy and estimate losses to the lenders in excess of $3 million.

This case was investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the United States Secret Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kelley Howard-Allen and Mandy Riedel.

Updated February 5, 2015