New York Mortgage Fraud Unit Announces 17 Arrests

Seventeen people were charged on Monday for various real estate scams in New York.

The arrests stem from New York’s Mortgage Fraud and Real Estate Crimes Unit, which has undertaken 250 investigations, resulting in 40 prosecutions said Charles J. Hynes, Kings County District Attorney.

Working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General, the arrests were made for various crimes, involving a reverse mortgage, loan modifications, deed theft and mortgage fraud.

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“Let it be known to housing scam predators and mortgage rip-off artists: there is a new cop on the beat and his name is DA Joe Hynes. Homeowners and would-be homeowners in Brooklyn have suffered for too long because of scam artists who feel they can take advantage of people without any repercussions,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) at a press conference. “This mortgage fraud unit – which is a perfect example of federal and local partnership – protects homeowners from criminals who prey on our most vulnerable, often seniors.”

Two defendants, Carmen Szumilas, 49, and Melody Zuniga, 28, were charged with using a forged power of attorney to obtain a reverse mortgage in excess of $250,000 on a home owned by Szumilas’s estranged husband.

“One of the most important products that HUD can offer our senior citizens is the ability to tap into their equity through the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage known as the HECM,” said Rene Febles, Special Agent in Charge of the HUD OIG.  “When someone attacks the integrity of that or any other HUD program, the HUD OIG will be there to investigate such circumstances. Thanks to the leadership of the Kings County District Attorney, today we have protected our program and every American taxpayer who counts on those benefits.”

For more information on the crimes, see here.

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