Seven charged in multi-million-dollar Miami mortgage fraud scheme
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Henry Gutierrez, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service, and James K. Loftus, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department, have announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Gelasio Alberto Diaz of Miami, Claudia Glaser of North Bay Village, Nereida Ramos of Miami, Antonio Pinto of Miami Beach, Emilia Fortes of West Palm Beach, Pura Machado Aguila of Miami, and Carlos Orellana of Miami Gardens, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and 10 counts of substantive wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. The defendants are alleged to have engaged in a mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded three financial institutions of approximately $5 million in fraudulent loans. According to the indictment, defendants Gelasio Alberto Diaz and Nereida Ramos were employed at Infinity Mortgage Solutions in Miami, Fla. According to the indictment, the defendants were involved in the fraudulent financing of mortgages for at least eight residential properties in Miami-Dade County. More specifically, Diaz and Ramos would allegedly identify properties that could be used to defraud lenders and then recruited individuals to pose as purchasers of the properties. Throughout the duration of the conspiracy, Diaz used co-defendant Claudia Glaser’s mortgage brokerage license to operate Infinity Mortgage. During this time, defendant Claudia Glaser signed-off on the mortgage loans without performing the necessary verifications. As well, defendant Nereida Ramos acted as the main loan processor for Infinity Mortgage, and was the main contact for the financial institutions and the borrowers. Among the individuals who were recruited as straw purchasers were co-defendants Antonio Pinto, an employee at Infinity Mortgage, Emilia Fortes, Pura Machado Aguila and Carlos Orellana. Once a property was purchased, Diaz and Ramos would make the mortgage payments until the property could be flipped at an inflated price. The defendants used the profits made from “flipping” the properties to other straw purchasers to buy additional properties and make payments on the mortgages. Eventually, the defendants stopped making the loan payments and the properties went into foreclosure, resulting in significant losses to Countrywide Home Loans, Fremont Investment & Loan, WMC Mortgage and other lenders. “The FBI views mortgage fraud as a significant crime problem," said Special Agent in Charge John V. Gillies. "The mortgage lending and housing market have a considerable overall effect on the nation’s economy and combating mortgage fraud will remain a top priority for the FBI.” If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison on each count of conspiracy and substantive wire fraud. Ferrer commended the efforts of the FBI, the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Secret Service and the Miami-Dade Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cristina Pérez Soto. For more information, visit www.usdoj.gov/usao/fl.