Monday, August 6, 2012

Head Of N. Jersey Sale Leaseback Equity Stripping Scam Gets 46 Months, Employee Gets 18 Months; Created Phony Liens To Divert Cash To Themselves

In Newark, New Jersey, reports:

  • A Piscataway man who owned and operated multiple foreclosure rescue companies was sentenced Tuesday to 46 months in prison for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded numerous mortgage lenders of more than $10 million, authorities said.

    Ronald Harris Jr., 42, formerly of West Orange, previously pleaded guilty to a sworn, written indictment charging him with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

    A former employee of Harris’ — Sterling Bruce, 38, of Newark — was also sentenced Tuesday, to 18 months in prison. Bruce previously pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Faith S. Hochberg imposed the sentences in Newark federal court.

    According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Harris owned and operated Harris Capital and Skyline Capital Group, both of which held themselves out as foreclosure rescue companies and operated out of offices in Newark and Maplewood.

    Harris admitted that he and other individuals, including Harris Capital employee Bruce, fraudulently promised to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, keep their homes, and repair their damaged credit. They directed the homeowners to allow the title to their homes to be put in the names of third-party purchasers, or straw buyers, for six months to a year.

    Harris told the homeowners that during that time period, he and others would help them obtain more favorable mortgages and improve their credit ratings. The homeowners were told the titles to their homes would be returned to them.(1)

    After the homeowners were signed up, Harris, Bruce and others recruited individuals with good credit scores to act as straw buyers of the distressed properties. The straw buyers were told that they were helping someone save his or her home and that they would make money when they sold the property back to the current owner.

    Once the distressed homeowners and straw buyers were in place, Harris, Bruce and Pia Perkinson, 40, of Parlin — a mortgage loan officer at a number of different mortgage loan companies — and others caused loan applications to be sent in the straw buyers’ names to mortgage lenders.

    Prior to the closings of these fraudulent transactions, Harris and Bruce regularly filed fraudulent liens for tens of thousands of dollars on the properties. At the closings of the transactions, the liens would be paid off with the proceeds of the fraudulently obtained loans.

(1) For more on this type of foreclosure rescue ripoff, see:

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