72 charged in home-loan schemes

CLEVELAND (AP) -- A grand jury has indicted 72 companies and individuals on 303 charges that they used false information to obtain more than 4 million in home loans, a prosecutor announced Thursday.
The charges of racketeering, forgery and theft target mortgage brokers and lenders accused of helping to push Cuyahoga County's foreclosure rate to among the highest in the nation.
The alleged schemes involved 43 properties in Cleveland and the suburbs of East Cleveland, Garfield Heights, Brook Park, Pepper Pike and Solon, the county prosecutor's office said.
Buyers and sellers used false income and other information to obtain loans, prosecutors said. Third parties provided down payments and then recovered the money, plus a fee, when deals closed, according to court documents.
The cases are being handled by an assistant prosecutor hired last year to focus on crimes such as mortgage fraud and predatory lending, in which lenders and mortgage brokers push high-interest loans on home buyers who have bad credit or low incomes.
"You predators are now put on notice," Cuyahoga County prosecutor Bill Mason said in a statement. "Those of you who engage in deception in the lending process will face criminal charges."

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