Real Estate Law

Fraud Mastermind Uses Straw Buyer To Pull Off $2.1 Million Mortgage Theft

A six-count indictment has been filed in federal court charging Derryl L. Tanner  and Julie A. Becker with engaging in a $2.1 million mortgage-fraud scheme. Tanner and Becker are accused of conspiring in 2006 to defraud several lending institutions related to transactions involving a home at 1517 Fitzroy Street in Westlake, Ohio.

Tanner learned that the builder of the home on Fitzroy was experiencing financial difficulties and was willing to sell the home for the cost of construction. Tanner enlisted Becker to serve as a straw buyer. He told her that if she allowed the property to be purchased in her name, she would not have to put any money down and would receive cash back at the time of closing for allowing her name to be used, according to the indictment. Becker signed promissory notes that she had no intention of repaying. Funds were temporarily transferred into an account in her name so she could qualify for a mortgage, a home equity line and make a down payment. She also, with Tanner’s knowledge, provided false income tax returns for the same purposes, according to the indictment.

When Ohio Savings approved a $250,000 home equity line of credit application on the Fitzroy property, Tanner and Becker quickly spent the money, including transferring large sums of money into their personal bank accounts, according to the indictment. Tanner moved into the Fitzroy property but was not able to make the monthly mortgage payment. The property went into foreclosure, resulting in losses of approximately $670,000 to First Place, $250,000 to Ohio Savings/Amtrust and $350,000 to National City/PNC, according to Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark S. Bennett following an investigation by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General and Westlake Police Department.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after a review of the federal sentencing guidelines and factors unique to the case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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