Monday, May 17, 2010

Queens DA Bags Seventeen Suspects In Alleged Sale Leaseback, Equity Stripping Foreclosure Rescue Racket

From the Office of the Queens District Attorney's Office:

  • Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, joined by New York State Banking Superintendent Richard H. Neiman(1) and Acting New York State Police Superintendent John P. Melville, [] announced that 17 individuals – including two Queens attorneys – have been charged with defrauding legitimate homeowners and various lending institutions out of more than $3 million in equity that had been stripped from 26 refinanced residential properties valued at $13 million.(2)


  • The investigation further allegedly revealed that [Roger] Huggins and [Inderpaul] Sookraj targeted homeowners in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx who had substantial equity in their residences but either faced foreclosure due to their inability to make monthly mortgage payments or were simply behind in their mortgage payments and looking to refinance or modify their loans with their lenders. It is alleged that Huggins and Sookraj offered to help the homeowners by instructing them to permit title to their homes be put in the name of a third-party purchaser (a “straw buyer”) for one year, during which time the two defendants promised to improve the homeowners’ credit rating, help them obtain more favorable mortgages on their homes and ultimately, return to them the title to their homes. What allegedly occurred at the closings, however, was that Huggins and Sookraj – in order to keep as much of the mortgage proceeds as possible – fabricated reasons why they needed to hold the homeowners’ funds in escrow – such as that the equity withdrawn from the properties would be used to pay the mortgages and expenses on the homes and to repair the homeowners’ credit.(3)

For the Queens DA press release, see Seventeen Individuals - Including Two Attorneys Charged in Massive Multi-Million Dollar Real Estate Fraud (Ringleaders Allegedly Targeted Distressed Homeowners in Mortgage Rescue Scams; 26 Refinanced Residential Properties Stripped Of More Than $3 Million In Equity).

Go here for a Queens DA flowchart of how the alleged racket worked.

Thanks to Catherine Isobe of Bedford Stuyvesant Community Legal Services, Brooklyn, NY (a part of the Legal Services NYC network of organizations providing free legal services for low income people throughout NYC) for the heads-up on the press release.

(1) State Banking Superintendent Neiman said, “The fact that these defendants took advantage of homeowners in distress, and in the guise of helping, actually stripped them of their equity and ownership, is compounded by the fact that some of these defendants were licensed professionals – attorneys, mortgage brokers and real estate advisors. Instead of acting as the gatekeepers whose function it is to protect the interests of vulnerable homeowners, they abused their positions in order to steal millions of dollars. [...]"

(2) The defendants are variously charged with first- and second-degree grand larceny, first degree criminal possession of stolen property, first-degree money laundering, first-degree identity theft, second-degree forgery, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first-degree falsifying business records, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, first-degree scheme to defraud and fourth-degree criminal facilitation. If convicted, the defendants face as much as 25 years in prison. For the entire "honor roll":


  • ROGER HUGGINS, 34, of 92-06 Springfield Boulevard, Queens Village, New York, is the co-owner of Home Solutions, located at 127-16 Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill, Queens. He is also the owner of Huggins Realty, LLC (an alleged shell corporation) and a loan officer with DMV Mortgage.
  • INDERPAUL SOOKRAJ, 44, of 116-01 Sutter Avenue, South Ozone Park, New York, is the co-owner of Home Solutions, located at 127-16 Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill, Queens. He is also the owner of Marlon Brando Construction Company (an alleged shell corporation). (Fugitive)


  • SHAWN D. CHAND, 34, of 248 Mill Road, Valley Stream, New York, maintains a law office at 110-13 Jamaica Avenue, Richmond Hill, Queens.
  • TREVOR RUPNARAIN, 48, of 114-28 149th Avenue, South Ozone Park, maintains a law office at 131-02 Liberty Avenue and previously at 117-15 101st Avenue, both in Richmond Hill, Queens. He is also the registered real estate broker and owner of Remax Xcel Realty located at 131-02 Liberty Avenue.


  • ANAND BHARAT, 54, of 94-38 216th Street, Queens Village, was a licensed real estate salesperson with defendant Rupnerain’s company, Remax Xcel Realty, and owned A&T Realty, a non-licensed real estate brokerage company (an alleged shell corporation), and Signature Management Company (also an alleged shell corp oration).
  • * PRAHALAD MAHADEO, 32, of 89-15 205th Street, South Richmond Hill, New York, was a licensed real estate salesperson with defendant Rupnerain’s company, Remax Xcel Realty, and owned Reliance Realty, a non-licensed real estate brokerage company, and New Liberty Construction.
  • MANGAL SINGH, 57, whose last known address was 774 Regent Drive, Westbury, New York, was the principal founder and owner of DMV Mortgage, located at 127-18 Liberty Avenue. The company is presently out of business and the defendant is believed to be in India. (Fugitive)


  • ** ARIEL HUGGINS, 36, of 92-06 Springfield Boulevard, Queens Village, New York.
  • MOHAMMAD ABDALLAH,37, of 106-19 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, Jamaica, New York. (Fugitive)


  • MICHAEL ABDUL, 44, whose last known address was 107-12 129th Street, South Richmond Hill, New York, is believed to be in Florida. (Fugitive)
  • FAIZ ALI, 46, of 101-67 121st Street, South Richmond Hill, Queens.
  • JAGDESH KULDIP, 31, of 245-28 147th Road, Rosedale, New York.
  • PURNIMA MAHAMMED, 29, of 102-12 135th Street, South Richmond Hill, New York.
  • ANEESA MOHAMMED, 30, is believed to be in Florida. (Fugitive)
  • KRISHNA RAMROOP, 56, of 102-12 135th Street, South Richmond Hill, New York.
  • VADIANUTH SANICHAR, 44, of 97-14 129th Street, Richmond Hill, New York.
  • DAVID SOOKDEO, 29, of 144-07 168th Street, Jamaica, New York.

* was also a recruiter
** was also a straw buyer

(3) According to the DA's press release, investigators believe that this alleged racket also engaged in using forged documents to steal homes out from under homeowners, one of whom was already dead, according to this excerpt:

  • In another instance, it is alleged, Huggins and Sookraj drafted and filed fraudulent documents which purported that they had purchased a home from a homeowner who, in fact, had died a year prior to the closing. The defendants subsequently flipped the property to a straw buyer at an inflated price ($420,000), thus allowing them to keep and split the entire loan proceeds between themselves and their co-defendants as there was no actual seller of the property. To date, the Jamaica, Queens, property remains vacant and the loan has gone into default.
  • It is additionally charged that Huggins and Sookraj stole the property deeds of at least two homes outright by fraudulently creating documents – complete with such identifying information of the homeowners as their social security numbers, dates of birth and driver’s licenses – which purported that the homeowner had sold their homes to Huggins and Sookraj, who then turned around and sold the properties to straw buyers. The homeowners neither had any knowledge of the fraudulent transactions, nor did they realize that their home had been stolen. In both instances, the original homeowners allegedly had met Huggins when he offered to assist them with the “short sale” of their properties. In one case, the homeowner had gone to Huggins because he had lost his job and his wife was stricken with cancer.

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