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April 22, 09

NEWS / Five Indicted and Arrested in Mortgage Fraud Scam

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Five individuals are accused of a mortgage scam fraudulently purchasing homes in Northern Virginia and profiting by using the mortgage proceeds to pay “home improvement” expenses and other payments totaling nearly $337,000.

Dana J. Boente, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Joseph Persichini, Jr., Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office; and Gregory Campbell, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Washington Division, made the announcement following the indictment and subsequent arrest of all alleged conspirators.

On April 15, 2009, a federal grand jury indicted Nelson C. Cardoza, age 37 of Ranson, W.V.; Victor A. Valdez, age 27 of Fairfax, Va.; Monica J. Lambert, age 30 of Gainesville, Va.; Liguia Abaunza Miranda, age 54 of Chantilly, Va.; and Erick G. Chavarria, age 35 of Manassas, Va., on conspiracy and wire fraud charges. Cardoza, Valdez and Lambert were each indicted on five counts and face a maximum penalty of 100 years in prison. Miranda was charged with four counts and faces a maximum of 80 years in prison, and Chavarria was charged with three counts and faces a maximum sentence of 60 years.

According to the indictment and other court documents, Cardoza provided names of two different people to purchase five different properties in the Northern Virginia region. These buyers did not know of or authorize the purchases but the conspirators used their names and Social Security numbers to apply for and obtain the mortgage financing.

Lambert, a real estate agent, prepared the sales contracts, and Valdez, a mortgage broker, prepared fraudulent mortgage applications, which falsified the income and assets of the buyers. Chavarria worked for Valdez and added the names of one of the buyers to his bank account so the buyer would appear to have the funds needed to qualify for the loan. Miranda, the mother of Lambert and mother-in law of Valdez, operated a tax preparation business and authored letters to substantiate the fake employment of the buyers as listed in the fraudulent mortgage applications.

The conspirators profited by using part of the mortgage proceeds to pay “home improvement” expenses to themselves, entities they controlled and their associates. These home improvement expenses were approximately $33,000 to $55,000 per house. Some of the conspirators also earned thousands of dollars in commissions on the sales. According to the indictment, the conspiracy resulted in a total of at least $336,957 in fraudulent proceeds. The properties involved in the scheme have been foreclosed upon, causing substantial losses to the lenders.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the United States Postal Investigation Service. Assistant United States Attorney Edmund P. Power is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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