FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Sept. 21, 2011
Sarah A. Fleming was sentenced to more than six years in prison and ordered to pay more than $3 million in restitution for her role in a mortgage fraud scheme, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Fleming, age 36, of Macedonia, Ohio, previously pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud, tax fraud, aggravated identity theft, and credit card fraud.
Fleming conspired to obtain mortgage loans for properties located in the Cleveland, Ohio and Waxhaw, North Carolina areas. Fleming and others knowingly prepared and caused to be submitted false and fraudulent HUD-1 Settlement Statements in connection with mortgage loan applications made to financial institutions, which artificially and fraudulently induced the lending institution to provide financing in excess of $1.8 million, according to court documents.
Fleming and her co-conspirators recruited straw, or nominee, borrowers who agreed to purchase homes and obtain mortgage loans in their names for a fee, even though they never had any intention of actually living in the homes. Fleming and her co-conspirators created false and fraudulent documents and related financial information to obtain the mortgage loans. These often included a false appraisal which significantly inflated the true value of the property; false income statements; false bank statements; and false verifications of funds on deposit by the buyer, according to court documents.
From in or about January 2009 to in or about March 2010, Fleming or one of her co-conspirators filed at least 141 false 2008 and 2009 federal income tax returns in the names of 125 individuals, resulting in a total of $1,980,210 in false claims filed with the IRS. Fleming paid a "finder's fee" to her co-conspirators for referring personal identifiers of real people that she could use for filing the false returns. Fleming attached a false Form W-2 to many of the fraudulent returns filed with the IRS and then submitted the false claims to the IRS electronically through Turbo Tax, according to court documents.
Fleming used the personal identifiers of 14 real people, including their Social Security numbers and dates of birth, to open 14 credit card accounts with Capital One. She then used those fraudulent credit cards to obtain things of value totaling more than $1 million, according to court documents.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Chelsea S. Rice, following investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General.