South Carolina couple get long prison terms in rent-to-own scam

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

A South Carolina couple was sentenced Tuesday to long prison terms for running a fraudulent rent-to-own scheme that swindled hundreds of homeowners out of millions of dollars.

Federal Judge Timothy Cain sentenced Dana Roush — already jailed on a bond violation — to 11 years for her role in the company and another embezzlement case. He then gave her husband, Michael “Bubba” Roush, nearly seven years in prison.

» FROM AUGUST: Lawyer accused of bilking $107 million from lottery winners

The pair was also ordered to pay $2.6 million in restitution to nearly 200 victims of Kingdom Connected Investments, the company that was behind the ruse, The Greenville News reported.

The duo marketed the business as a Christian-based firm and promised to deliver a “win-win” to home buyers and sellers through mortgage relief, according to The Associated Press.

» FROM MAY: Family turns in $1 million cash it found in middle of road

As recently as last September, the couple was making arrangements to purchase homes and then finding rent-to-own buyers for the properties, while also agreeing to pay the seller’s mortgage, federal prosecutors said.

But instead of using the payments from buyers to pay down the mortgages, prosecutors said the couple used the money for personal expenses and to expand their own real estate empire.

» ELSEWHERE: Instagram star ‘Hushpuppi’ in federal custody after global fraud sting

A news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office said the company received $2.6 million from buyers and only paid $1.4 million in mortgage payments.

The surprise came when the sellers received foreclosure notices, and the buyers learned they didn’t have ownership when the home was purchased by a third party at a foreclosure sale. Nearly 130 properties were involved in the scam, which also targeted homeowners in North Carolina and Georgia, according to the newspaper.

» FROM JULY: Man charged after alleged $4M spending spree with virus relief funds

Michael Roush pleaded guilty to a mail fraud conspiracy charge in June 2019, nearly three months before his wife was found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and equity skimming by a federal grand jury.

Michael Roush’s attorney asked the judge to consider a lighter prison sentence to allow him to work and repay victims, the newspaper reported.

Information provided by The Associated Press was used to supplement this report.