Grand jury indicts family for mortgage fraud

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Highlights:

  • Grand jury indicts six family member for mortgage fraud.
  • Total fraud could equal $4.5 million.
  • AG John Suthers will prosecute.
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Jose Ricardo Sarabia-Martinez

A statewide grand jury has issued a 37-count indictment against six family members for using their status in the real estate industry to perpetrate a fraud-for-profit mortgage fraud scheme, the Colorado Attorney Genera’s office announced today.

The family is accused of manipulating “straw buyers” to buy and sell properties destined for foreclosure.

 The six are accused of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act based on the commission of crimes ranging from Forgery and Theft, to Criminal Impersonation, and Attempt to Influence a Public Servant.

 “Through an elaborate scheme of falsifying documents and identities then propping up straw buyers, this family played on gullible people wanting to live the dream of homeownership,” said Attorney General John Suthers.

 “Properties were illegally acquired, money was stolen, credit histories ruined, and houses ended up in foreclosure,” Suthers continued.

“My office will aggressively pursue those who willingly cause foreclosures and I thank our partner agencies for their painstaking efforts,” he said.

 The Colorado Attorney General’s Office will prosecute the cases in Denver District Court.

Lauren Maes Sarabia

Lauren Maes Sarabia

 Jose Ricardo Sarabia-Martinez, 32, was the enterprise’s ringleader along with his wife, 30-year-old Lauren Maes Sarabia, according to Suther’s office.

Younger twin brothers, Pedro Sarabia and Pablo Sarabia-Martinez, both 28 also were named in the indictment along with parents Ricardo Sarabia-Salcido, 53, and Teresa Martinez, 52.

A total of 12 properties were identified in the indictment and the total potential loss to various lending institutions may be as high as $4.6 million.

Meticulous work led by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations uncovered irregularities in the operations of the family-owned businesses, Worldwide Realty, Inc. Worldwide Investment Firm, Inc. Worldwide Property Management, LLC, and Ideavision Marketing Corp., that ultimately led to the grand jury indictment, according to Suther’s office.

 The Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Office of Inspector General for the Federal Housing Finance Agency were also involved in the investigation

  

“This case and other mortgage fraud cases investigated by CBI shows the considerable damage groups have caused in the mortgage and banking industry and in our communities where these foreclosures have occurred and individuals have had their credit destroyed,” said Director Ron Sloan.

 “We are committed to investigating these far-reaching crimes to reduce the impact on those targeted by these complex schemes.”

Financial problems at Worldwide Realty (at the company’s office 403 16th St., Suites 2 and 3, Denver) caused Sarabia-Martinez to start defaulting on taxes and other bills.

He is accused of then falsifying documents to secure a loan through the Small Business Administration and refinance loans he owed.

Worldwide was, however, evicted and as receivers began going through the office suites, found more than 100 boxes with paperwork of suspicious transactions.

While each scheme was unique, the template play was to hire a “straw buyer” to purchase a home in the Denver-metro area.

The family would put money in the straw buyer’s bank account to inflate that person’s net worth and thus allow the straw buyer to obtain multiple mortgage loans.

The family profited from taking out fraudulently-acquired loans and from bogus notary and Realtor commissions.

However, the buyers were ultimately left with mortgages they could not afford to pay and a tarnished credit history.

“These individuals engaged in a fraudulent scheme to gain access to an SBA guaranteed loan program and further their criminal enterprise,” said Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson.

“SBA’s guaranteed loan programs are only eligible to persons meeting specific character standards to guard against those driven by greed or other criminal motives,” Gustafson continued.

“I want to thank the Colorado Office of the Attorney General and our law enforcement partners for their cooperation in bringing these individuals to justice,” she added.

Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at  JRCHOOK@gmail.com. InsideRealEstateNews.com is sponsored by Universal Lending, Land Title Guarantee and 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.

 

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for GlobeSt.com, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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