Monday, July 30, 2012

Settlement Agent Admits To $684K Real Estate Escrow Ripoff; Loot Intended To Fund Existing Mortgage Payoffs

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Baltimore, Maryland):

  • Sandy P. Kim, age 43, of Ellicott City, Maryland, pleaded guilty [] to wire fraud. [...] According to her plea, from 2005 to 2008, Kim was employed as a title agent at a title insurance company, and was the owner and chief operating officer of EK Settlements. Kim was required to maintain an escrow account in order to receive real estate settlement funds from buyers and pay off mortgage lenders.

    Starting in 2006, Kim stole money from the escrow accounts to pay her personal bills, including taxes and private school tuition for her children. She also used the stolen funds to pay prior loans she had failed to pay off, in order to forestall discovery of her theft.

    On August 20, 2007 Kim performed a closing for a client and caused $175,136 to be wired to an account she controlled. Instead of paying off the client’s prior mortgage, Kim used the money for her own purposes. To conceal the theft, she made several monthly mortgage payments to the prior mortgage lender.

    In 2008 when her employer began to suspect problems and sought to audit her accounts, Kim submitted fraudulently altered bank records. When subsequently interviewed by law enforcement, she admitted to the scheme.

    Kim stole a total of $684,283 from the escrow accounts which were intended to pay off mortgage lenders. As part of her plea agreement, Kim has agreed to entry of an order of forfeiture in such amount.

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