Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced Wednesday four New Jersey residents were charged with utilizing “straw buyers” to obtain fraudulent mortgage loans from a financial institution.
The four defendants named in the case include:
- 57-year-old Victor Santos, aka “Vitor Santos,” of Wachtung,
- 50-year-old Arsenio Santos, aka “Gaspar Santos,” of Warren
- 64-year-old Fausto Simoes of Millington
- 37-year-old Raquel Casalinho of Union
Santos, a real estate investor, Simoes, a real estate settlement attorney, Arsenio Santos, Victor’s cousin and builder and Casalinho, Victor’s niece and home mortgage consultant at the “victim bank,” conspired to obtain fraudulent mortgage loans, totaling over $5 million from September 2007 through November 2008.
The defendants recruited “straw buyers” to acquire properties in Newark and obtain their personal information. In exchange for the buyers credit history and identity, the defendants paid each straw buyer $5,000. They also agreed to provide the straw buyers cash and down payment needed for the closing and make mortgage payments, according to court documents.
Identifying information from the straw buyers was utilized to obtain mortgage loans, totaling over $900,000. The defendants would charge the straw buyers much more than the sellers agreed to sell the properties. The difference between the amounts the sellers received and the contract price was split amount the defendants.
Simoes closed on about 10 properties. He stated the cash received for the closings cam from straw buyers, but in fact the funds came from Victor Santos and his conspirators. The funds were deposited into a trust account controlled by Simoes. A shell company controlled by Victor Santos was the source of the cashier’s checks for some of the fraudulent transactions. Down payments for other transactions cam from an account controlled by Victor and Arsenio Santos.
The defendants are facing a maximum 30-year prison sentence and $1 million fine.