Former Washington mortgage originator charged in ripoff of first-time homebuyers
Liza Bautista of Tukwila, Wash., has been arraigned in U.S. District Court in Seattle on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and misuse of a Social Security Number, in connection with a scheme to defraud lenders and line her own pocket. According to the indictment, between August 2005, and July 2006, Bautista engaged in a scheme to defraud lenders by submitting false and fraudulent information in connection with home loans.
According to the indictment, Bautista held herself out as someone who could help first-time homebuyers with bad credit purchase their first home. She allegedly took advantage of these purchasers naivete—they trusted Bautista when she told them the paperwork was all in order, and that they had purchased their first home. In reality, Bautista had obtained the home loans and placed title to the properties in the names of past clients who had better credit. These past clients were shocked when lenders started contacting them about homes they had never purchased. The naive buyers could not understand why lenders kept mailing information to their home in the names of other people. Some of these new purchasers made their mortgage payments to Bautista who pocketed the payments instead of passing them on to the lending institutions. When the young purchasers learned they had not really purchased their dream home, they had to move out, and the lending institutions lost thousands as the homes were foreclosed and sold at a loss. Bautista pocketed about $20,000 on six loans worth over $800,000. The scheme involved properties in Federal Way, Kirkland and Everett, Wash.
Mail fraud and wire fraud are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Misuse of a Social Security Number is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case was investigated by the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), the FBI and the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG).
For more information, visit http://seattle.fbi.gov.
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