California Attorney Indicted in Fraud Scam to Purchase Homes at Inflated Prices
An Orange County, Calif. attorney has been indicted on charges related to a mortgage fraud scheme in which 30 homes were purchased at inflated prices, with the excess proceeds going to the lawyer and other members of the conspiracy. Gerald L. Wolfe of Corona del Mar, Calif., a licensed attorney who was formerly also a registered real estate broker, was named in a one-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury. The indictment charges Wolfe with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, a charge that carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The indictment alleges that Wolfe and others conspired to make fraudulent purchases of 30 properties in Orange and Riverside counties in California between the summer of 2005 and January 2006. The mortgages for the properties allegedly were fraudulent because the loan applications, among other things, misled lenders into believing that Wolfe or “straw buyers” would be living in those properties, contained fictitious personal information about straw buyers recruited by the conspiracy, and sought mortgages for inflated sale prices with agreements that sellers would return the inflated portion of the sale price to the conspiracy. Most of the 30 homes involved in the scheme went into foreclosure. Investigators believe that the loss amount in relation to the scheme is more than $2 million. Wolfe has agreed to surrender to authorities and will make his initial court appearance on Oct. 12 in United States District Court. Two of Wolfe’s co-conspirators previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy and are pending sentencing. For more information, visit http://losangeles.fbi.gov.