Feds charge 11 from metro Atlanta in mortgage fraud scheme

Credit: File photo

Credit: File photo

Twelve people, most of them from metro Atlanta, face charges after federal prosecutors said they defrauded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for four years and helped secure more than 100 mortgages for unqualified homebuyers.

The scheme relied on an elaborate system of fabricated documents and false information, U.S. Attorney BJay Pak said Monday in a news release.

Eric Hill, 50, of Tyrone, and Robert Kelske, 52, of Smyrna, are charged with leading the conspiracy, according to officials. Both were described in the release as listing agents representing a major national homebuilder. The company was not named.

According to the investigation, Hill and Kelske told potential homebuyers what types of assets, employment and income they needed to claim to have in order to be approved for home loans, which were insured by the Federal Housing Administration. They then coordinated with 41-year-old Fawziyyah Connor of Tyrone and 57-year-old Stephanie Hogan of Norcross to alter the homebuyers' bank statements and create fake direct deposits from false employers, Pak said.

Six other participants in the conspiracy verified employment by answering phone calls and emails from mortgage lenders. Prosecutors identified the six as Jerod Little, 42, of McDonough, Renee Little, 33, of McDonough, Maurice Lawson, 36, of Powder Springs, Todd Taylor, 54, of Fairburn, Paige McDaniel, 49, of Stockbridge, and Donald Fontenot, 52, of Locust Grove.

The investigation also revealed that two real estate agents, Anthony Richard and Cephus Chapman, falsely claimed to represent the homebuyers, Pak said. Richard, 44, of Locust Grove, and Chapman, 49, of Warner Robins, notified attorneys they could not attend closings, then sent wire instructions for their commission despite never having met the homebuyers, according to prosecutors. When they received the commissions, they gave a majority of the money to Hill and Kelske, Pak said.

“What we have here is a group of mortgage industry professionals that have allegedly perpetrated a sophisticated mortgage fraud for profit scheme that was designed to enrich themselves at the expense of a federal housing program,” said Wyatt Achord, the special agent in charge at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General.

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