Owner of Real Estate Escrow Company Indicted for Bank, Wire and Mail Fraud
Defendant Falsified Documents, Altered Checks and Embezzled Money from Trust Account
The owner of a now defunct real estate escrow firm was indicted last month by a federal grand jury on ten counts of bank fraud, and one count each of mail and wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. LORI LYNN ANDREW, 48, of Cashmere, Washington, the owner of Hartman Escrow, Inc., was arrested and arraigned on the indictment August 3, 2017. The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions arranged for a receiver to take over the Tukwila, Washington escrow company in 2012 after finding evidence of fraud. ANDREW had her license to act as an escrow agent suspended in 2013 and her license has since been revoked.
According to the indictment, beginning in about January 2011, and continuing until July 2012, ANDREW used a variety of means to defraud financial institutions and individual home buyers and sellers who were involved in various real estate transactions. ANDREW made, or had others make, false settlement statements on the transactions listing false or inflated fees and charges to hide the fact that she was embezzling money. ANDREW forged signatures on various statements and created false invoices, statements and bills; she altered and deposited checks to her company account that should have gone to others; she took funds from her trust account and transferred them to her personal account for her own use. ANDREW used the money for casino payments, credit card bills and other personal expenses. ANDREW defrauded individual customers as well as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi Bank, Chase and GMAC.
In all the indictment alleges ANDREW defrauded the financial institutions and other customers of approximately $2 million.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Each count of bank, mail or wire fraud is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
The case was investigated by the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, the FBI, the Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG).
The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Hugo Torres and Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa. Mr. Torres is a Senior King County Deputy Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute financial fraud cases in federal court.