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A major federal investigation has resulted in the arrest of a dozen people who allegedly raked in more than $9 million from fraudulent mortgages made on several New York properties, including six buildings in the foreclosure-plagued neighborhoods of southeast Queens.
The U.S. attorney’s office indicted the individuals Oct. 7 on conspiracy, wire fraud and bank fraud charges in a scheme that allegedly went on for nearly two years. The suspects, who included four people from Queens, used straw buyers and false identities to take out loans on homes that later went into default, according to Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
“The U.S. economy is still reeling from the damage done by mortgage fraud schemes like the one unraveled today. These charges expose the corrupt conduct of industry insiders who allegedly manipulated the mortgage markets to fraudulently obtain millions in loans,” he said in a statement.
Among the charged are Foriduzzaman Sarder, 40, and Sakar Hossain, 43, both of Jackson Heights; Mikael Huq, 34, of Astoria; and Reginald Johnson, 36, of St. Albans, the criminal complaint said. The accused suspects, which included people from Long Island upstate New York, Georgia and Mississippi, used four New York City and Long Island mortgage companies — Reliable Capital, Atlas Home Equities, Alliance Mortgage Banking Corp. and Lend America — to get the fraudulent loans, according to the complaint.
The suspects would provide lending institutions with false identification documents, including driver’s licenses and Social Security cards, and income information. From September 2005 to sometime in 2007, according to the criminal complaint.
The mortgages, which were worth 100 percent of the purchase price, were made with the intentions to buy homes in Queens and Long Island and totaled close to $9 million, but the suspects took the money for themselves the complaint said.
The properties, which all went into foreclosure, included 116-21 148th St., 110-14 164th St. and 114-29 147th St. in Jamaica; 99-18 205th St. and 201-11 100th Ave. in Hollis; and 114-48 226th St. in Springfield Gardens, the U.S. attorney said.
Southeast Queens leads the state in the number of foreclosures due to a rise in predatory lending scams and the purchase of subprime mortgages.
If convicted, the suspects face at least 30 years in prison, according to the U.S. attorney.
“As we work to reform our nation’s mortgage regulation, law enforcement must continue to collaborate to ensure that those who exploited the system for their personal financial gain are brought to justice,” state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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