We left off last week demonstrating how we could find a massive mortgage fraud case with a bare minimum of effort and about five minutes of searching on the Miami Dade County Recorders office. First we did a quick search and found a warranty deed for a property purchased by convicted mortgage fraudster John Arthur Romney through his company "Property Collateral".
After examining the deed we were able to conclude that although the deed wasn't recorded till over four years later, the actual transaction had occurred on November 21, 2006. Through the cost of the documentary stamps, we were able to deduce that the purchase price of the home in question was $755,000 and since we were not able to find a recorded mortgage for the purchase of this property by Property Collateral Inc, we can only assume that it was a cash purchase.
Next we found that there was a lis pendens filed on the property on November 4, 2009 which signaled the beginning of a foreclosure action against the property. What struck us as strange was that although the company that purchased the property for what we presumed was all cash, they were still named in the foreclosure action. The property was purchased on November 21, 2006 for all cash yet they're still named in a foreclosure suit? We then searched for mortgages on the property by using the names of the other people named in the foreclosure suit and found that there was another lis pendens filed against the property, this one on September 22, 2008, a little more than year before the first one was filed. Even worse now, two different lis pendens on the property and still no recorded mortgage! Once again we attempt to search using the names of the other people named in the foreclosure suit for the subject property when we stumble upon this...
Here we find two mortgages recorded on the same day June 4, 2007 for the same property for a borrower named Leonor Essonreid. Interesting? Let's summarize what we have at this point...
- John Romney aka Property Collateral, Inc. purchases subject property located at 911 Columbus Blvd for $755,000 on November 21, 2006 for what we presume is all cash since there is no recorded mortgage.
- Mortgage is recorded against the property on June 4, 2007 naming Leonor Essonreid as the borrower even though there is no record of the ownership of the property being transferred to her.
- Lis pendens filed against the property on September 22, 2008.
- A second lis pendens filed against the property on November 21, 2009.
- A deed filed on August 3, 2010 conveying ownership of the property from Raul Romero to Property Collateral, Inc. even though the documents were originally signed four years earlier on Novermber 21, 2006.
Did anyone catch it? Even though the mortgage for reasons that can't be explained was recorded on June 4, 2007, the actual closing took place on November 21, 2006! Who would have guessed it?! Also note on page two that the amount of the mortgage was $880,000. As if that wasn't bad enough, take a look at the second mortgage for the same property...
Brilliant, another mortgage recorded on the same day as the first for an additional $200,000 bringing the total amount borrowed against this property to $1,080,000.
I'm sure the astute among you have already realized that John Romney aka Property Collateral, Inc didn't purchase this property for cash on November 21, 2006. What happened here was that the lender had already funded the loan for Leonor Essonreid in the amount of $1,080,000 and the attorney who was handling the closing had the money sitting in their trust account. As soon as the money was available, the attorney paid the original seller of the property ($755,000), prepared a deed for the transfer of the property to John Romney aka Property Collateral who simultaneously sold the property to Leonor Essonreid whose loan proceeds were used to fund the entire fraud. At the end of the day a deed was never recorded conveying the property to Ms. Essonreid, after all what was the point? I'm sure Ms Essonreid had no interest in the property other than what came along with her role as a straw buyer, since the entire deal was a scam, why would the closing agent worry about recording a deed? When all was said and done, Mr Romney and his co conspirators in this seven figure fraud walked away with a tidy profit of $325,000. Not bad for a days work.
Amazing what you can find with as little as five minutes worth of searching online, isn't it? Tomorrow, we're going to try to find Ms Essonreid and get some idea what a million dollar home buyer looks like.