Dec. 1, 2016

South Florida Real Estate Fraud

By Richard L. Petrovich

Real estate fraud can happen to anyone.  Institutional lenders are victims.  Private mortgage lenders are victims. Small businesses and individuals are victims. Through this blog, we attempt to locate articles and press releases and identify the various mechanics and schemes fraudsters use to commit mortgage fraud. 

This November, several individual defendants pled guilty to mortgage fraud in Federal District Court in Miami, stemming from fraud committed against institutional lenders back in 2008.  See Case 1:16-cr-20730-FAM; 1:16-cr-20729-KMW. Specifically, the Defendants were charged with violations of 18 U.S.C. 1344 (Bank and Wire Fraud).  In these cases, it appears as though bad actors recruited straw purchasers and passed these purchasers off to institutional lenders as qualified mortgage loan applicants, and in so doing, induced the purchasers to aid in falsifying mortgage loan applications, falsifying related supporting documentation, and misleading institutional lenders regarding earnest money deposits being held by defendants on the straw purchasers’ behalf.  According to the factual proffers, the straw purchasers were not qualified to obtain the loans and many if not all of the income verification documents were falsified by the closing agencies.  Apparently, these straw purchasers were induced to apply to purchase condominium units by the promise that the units came with paying tenants and were income producing.  Based on the false mortgage applications, various institutional lenders lent money to these otherwise unqualified purchasers and the loans closed.  According to court records, substantial portions of the loans were used to pay various “marketing fees,” which were as nothing more than “kick- backs” which the straw purchasers received.  The remaining proceeds were distributed for the benefit of other defendants who controlled the closing agencies and for the benefit of unnamed co-conspirators.  Nothing seems to have been remitted to the unit’s sellers.  All told, the amount of monies lent by the various institutions via this fraudulent scheme exceeded 1.9 million dollars.  Sentencing for the defendants is currently set for January 19, 2017 and March 28, 2017 respectively. 

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Manooch T. Azizi Appointed Legal Counsel to Hispanic Unity of Florida’s Board of Directors

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., July 1, 2022 – Tripp Scott, P.A. is proud to announce that Manooch T. Azizi, an attorney with the firm, has been appointed legal counsel to Hispanic Unity of  Florida's (HUF) Board of Directors.

For more than 20 years, Tripp Scott attorneys have been the pro bono legal counsel for Hispanic Unity of Florida, Inc., beginning with the firm's COO Paul Lopez. Manooch T. Azizi joins Charles M. Tatelbaum, Director for Tripp Scott, who is a past Board Chair of HUF and currently an emeritus member of the HUF Board and serves on the Board’s finance committee. 

Remember ‘It’s the economy, stupid’? Well, guess what? It still is

As Published in the Miami Herald

Political enthusiasts will recall the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign’s watchword: “It’s the economy, stupid!”

Households across the country are concerned with inflation. Consumer prices are at a four-decade high, led by gasoline, which has doubled in price since January 2021. Investment portfolios are slashed in half. Meat, poultry, fish, and egg prices are up by more than 14% year over year. Producer price indexes indicate that we can expect further trouble ahead.

A Mortgage Statement May be Deemed a Communication Under the FDCPA and FCCPA

A SPECIAL REPORT by Tripp Scott's Chuck Tatelbaum and Corey Cohen

In a question of first impression in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (which has jurisdiction over Florida, Georgia, and Alabama), the court was presented with the question of whether monthly mortgage statements were communications in connection with the collection of a debt under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA). In classic lawyer language, the answer is “it depends.” Although this seemingly equivocal response may leave lenders and their professionals to speculate as to a particular result, in this instance, the court determined that it may be subject to both statutes because the monthly mortgage statement stated it was an attempt to collect a debt, asked for payment, and threatened a late fee if not paid timely. Since many mortgage and other loan statements have all or part of this verbiage as standard “boilerplate” language, the decision needs to be a wake-up call for lenders and their attorneys.

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