Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, has announced that Karen Washam-Hawkins of Carson, Calif. and Gerald William Bartlett of Tampa, Fla,. were indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a credit history fraud that allegedly contributed to a nearly $3 million mortgage fraud scheme in Lee’s Summit, Mo. Washam-Hawkins and Bartlett were charged in a six-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo.
"Credit history fraud is a new and troubling criminal scheme," Phillips said. "By supplying false credit information, they artificially boost credit scores and create a fraudulent credit history that enables their customers to commit financial fraud. Today’s indictment marks the first time this district has charged a credit history fraud case, and signals our determination to prevent such schemes from proliferating."
Washam-Hawkins, a real estate agent, allegedly obtained and sold false Social Security numbers to enable individuals to create false credit histories in order to deceive lenders and obtain loans. Bartlett, through his Tampa businesses, provided fraudulent account and payment information to a credit bureau to falsely enhance the creditworthiness of individuals in order for those individuals to deceive lenders and obtain loans.
According to the indictment, beginning in late 2004 to early 2005 and continuing through Aug. 15, 2006, several customers of Washam-Hawkins and Bartlett benefitted from the credit history fraud scheme in order to fraudulently purchase six properties in Lee’s Summit in a mortgage fraud scheme totaling $2,959,200.
Washam-Hawkins allegedly supplied Shade Jerome Howard of Anaheim,Calif., with false Social Security numbers. Howard then gave Bartlett those false Social Security numbers, along with other identity information, and requested positive credit information for those individuals in order to enhance their creditworthiness. Bartlett, using the names South Florida Management Group and Consumer Financial Group, allegedly reported false account and payment information to a credit bureau.
According to today’s indictment, this scheme allowed Howard, along with Ronald E. Brown Jr., of Gladstone, Mo. and Daryle A. Edwards of Overland Park, Kan., to enhance their creditworthiness in order to deceive lenders and obtain mortgage loans for residential properties in Lee’s Summit. Brown purchased three residential properties totaling $1,339,700. Howard purchased two residential properties totaling $1,201,000. Edwards purchased a residential property for $418,500.
In addition to the conspiracy, the indictment charges Washam-Hawkins and Bartlett with three counts of transferring funds obtained by fraud across state lines. Washam-Hawkins is also charged with two counts of wire fraud. Phillips cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
For more information, visit http://kansascity.fbi.gov.