Federal officials said an unlicensed Long Island mortgage broker has admitted his role in the multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme to defraud its clients.
Commac resident Brent Kaufman, 50, pleaded guilty to stealing $ 4.7 million from refinancing mortgages that were meant to pay off his clients’ existing mortgages.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Kasoulis said Kaufman worked as an unlicensed mortgage broker and helped clients in Queens and Long Island refinance their mortgages.
When the mortgage is closed for refinancing, the money from the new mortgage must be transferred to a financial institution that has an existing mortgage in order to be paid off, she said.
Between 2016 and 2019, Kaufman, along with others, was involved in a scheme to defraud Home Point Financial Corporation, LoanDepot, United Wholesale Mortgage and other mortgage lenders, obtaining and trying to obtain financing by falsely claiming their deals.
In particular, Kaufman provided lenders with false information about the routing of existing mortgages.
Instead of transferring funds to the right financial institutions, funds were transferred to bank accounts controlled by Kaufman. As a result, existing mortgages were not paid off – clients were left with two mortgages on their homes – and Kaufman stole the funds for his own use.
In total, Kaufman stole more than $ 4.7 million, some of which he used to pay off mortgage payments on existing mortgages or eventually pay off those mortgages to avoid disclosing his scheme.
“With today’s plea of guilt, Kaufman admits to having stolen millions of dollars in a brazen mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded numerous lenders and put his client homeowners at risk of losing their homes to foreclosures,” Kasulis said.
“This office is prosecuting defendants like Kaufman who are being driven by greed to abuse the trust of innocent homeowners.”
When he is sentenced, Kaufman faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $ 1 million in confiscation.
“Kaufman not only stole his victims’ money, but also undermined their trust, leaving them financially vulnerable and putting them at risk of serious financial complications,” said FBI Deputy Acting Director Michael Driscoll.
“Collectively, his victims suffered millions of dollars in losses. Today’s admission of guilt reminds us of the threat posed by those who put their own financial interests above everything else. “
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