New York Man Charged With Fraudulent Mortgage Practices

by Scott on January 8, 2014

Real estate developer Schelton Assoumou of Brooklyn, New York, was recently arrested on charges of bank and wire fraud for his part in a mortgage fraud scheme that went on for several years. Assoumo’s initial appearance has been scheduled to be held before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn.

The criminal complaint states that between approximately June 2008 and June 2012, Assoumou fraudulently acted as a real estate developer, conducting business as president of Renaissance Development Inc. While holding himself out as a developer, Assoumou sold homes in Brooklyn as investment properties. He allegedly assured investors that he would handle all management duties of the real estate properties on their behalf; duties that included collecting tenants’ rents and handling mortgage payments for lenders. In reality, Assoumou did minimal work when managing the properties, and failed to consistently make the mortgage payments as promised. Loans went into default as a consequence, and the loss to lenders was over $2 million, according to the complaint. Additionally, there were several other fraudulent transactions that came to light during the government’s investigation.

Part of Assoumou’s scheme was to submit fraudulent mortgage applications to prospective lenders. While the applications appeared to be legitimate, they actually contained a variety of misrepresentations that included inaccurate bank balances and specific requirements for certain borrowers, stating that the borrowers would reside at the properties as required by federally insured mortgage loans. To keep the scam going, Assomou also provided lenders with erroneous documentation that was meant to support the false information in the applications.

If Assomou ends up being convicted of all the charges against him, he will face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. He will also be required to pay restitution as well as a hefty fine that could be as much as twice the loss that the victims endured.

Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Cary Rubenstein, special agent in charge, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development; George Venizelos, assistant director in charge, FBI (New York field office); and Steve Linick, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Office of Inspector General, announced the charges against Assomou.

U.S. Attorney Lynch stated, “As alleged in the complaint, Schelton Assoumou purported to run a real estate development business that invested in the revitalization of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. Instead, his goal was to fleece investors and lending institutions alike, using false promises and fraudulent documents to carry out his scheme. Assoumou engaged in the very type of fraud that contributed to the recent collapse of the housing market. Those who engage in such conduct will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted.”

The FHFA’s Linick stated, “The complaint alleges a scheme to defraud in which home mortgage lenders, among them Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, lost millions of dollars as a result of Schelton Assoumou’s activities. My office is committed to prosecuting such fraud schemes to the fullest extent under law.”

President Barack Obama’s financial fraud enforcement task force aided in bringing these charges to light. The President introduced the task force in order to wage a proactive means to thoroughly investigate and properly prosecute financial crimes. The task force is a powerful combination of representatives from federal agencies, regulatory authorities, state and local law enforcement and inspectors general who work together to ensure that fraud schemes are aggressively pursued and prosecuted, and that the victims receive restitution for their losses.

This case is currently being prosecuted by Michael Warren, assistant United States Attorney.


Dublin Man Pleads Guilty, Convicted of Money Laundering Mortgage Scheme

by Scott on January 7, 2014

Dublin man Gordon L. Yocom, 44, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit money laundering by fraudulently obtaining a mortgage loan in order to finance the purchase of a real estate property in Powell. Mr. Yocom agreed to forfeit $119,000, the total proceeds of the financial transaction.

Court documents stated, that Gordon L. Yocom both owned and operated Gordon Lending, a mortgage brokerage business. Mr. Yocom and his employee Nancy Rayfus, arranged for a buyer to purchase a Powell, Ohio property located at 10577 Durham Place. The buyer was actually from California, and Nancy Rayfus was the one who actually intended to stay at the property.

The financial contract was negotiated in order for Nancy Rayfus to receive substantial cash payments at the final closing by submitting two false invoices. Gordon Yocom knowingly and willingly released these funds to Nancy Rayfus in the amount of $123,500, for the sole purpose of funding a large percentage of the down payment in order to purchase the property. Gordon Yocom then proceeded to purchase two official checks out of accounts that were under his sole control, made payable to a company named Landsel Title. In order to perpetuate the growing scheme, Mr. Yocom had the bank use a variation of the purchaser’s actual name when the checks were remitted.

Both Gordon Yocom and Nancy Rayfus have agreed that Nancy Rayfus would be responsible for paying back the money that was initially used for the down payment through the proceeds of the sale of said property. Nancy Rayfus arranged for a total $350,000 to be paid directly to her out of the seller’s proceeds by submitting phony invoices to the lender, stating that renovations were performed at said property by various companies that she contracted. The property never received any type of renovations; however, Nancy Rayfus was still issued two checks that were made payable to a company named My Home Specialists Network and a second company named Norvath Group — both checks being paid out by Landsel Title. The checks were written in the amounts of $187,500 and $162,500. Nancy Rayfus deposited these checks into her multiple bank accounts. After these deposits, Rayfus then wrote a check that was made payable to Gordon Yocom for a total of $119,900. Gordon Yocom proceeded to deposit his check into his bank account, despite knowing full well that the funds were illegal, as they were the direct result of false statements that were made to the lender.

The crime of conspiracy to commit money laundering is a felony that is currently punishable by up to ten years in prison, as well as a hefty fine of up to $250,000, or twice the amount of the initial value of the property involved, whichever amount is greater.

Pending his sentencing, Gordon Yocom was released on bond. A date for sentencing has not yet been scheduled. Pleading guilty to one count of money laundering on December 29, 2011, Nancy Rayfus is due to be sentenced on February 14, 2013, ironically on Valentine’s Day.