Sacto 9-1-1
January 22, 2013
Owner of Elk Grove firm convicted in mortgage fraud scheme

The owner of a mortgage company in Elk Grove has been convicted in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme.

After a 10-day trial, a federal jury in Sacramento found Hoda Samuel, 60, of Elk Grove guilty of conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud and of 30 individual counts of mail fraud, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

Samuel, a licensed real estate broker, was the owner and principal operator of Liberty Real Estate & Investment Co., a real estate agency, and Liberty Mortgage Co, a mortgage brokerage business, according to evidence presented during the trial. Between April 5, 2006 and Feb. 26, 2007, Samuel's companies facilitated 30 residential real estate transactions that defrauded the lending institutions that provided the financing.

In all 30 transactions, Samuel served as the real estate broker for the purchaser, authorities said, and in at least 15 of the transactions, she also represented the seller. In 29 of the transactions, Liberty Mortgage Co. secured the financing for the purchases. At least 28 of the properties went into foreclosure, resulting in a loss to lenders of more than $5.5 million.

As part of the scheme, Samuel's co-conspirators and employees at Liberty Mortgage prepared loan applications containing false information that misrepresented the buyers' ability to pay back loans, and overstated or falsified their employment, income, assets and liabilities. When lenders attempted to verify the information by calling the purported employer, the phone number on the application led to a Liberty employee or associate who falsely verified the information, authorities said.

The offers reflected in the purchase contracts prepared by Liberty Real Estate overstated the value of the properties, often exceeding the actual asking prices by $15,000 to $40,000, according to the news release. The excess amounts were paid back to the buyers out of escrow, disguised as payments for fictional repairs and remodeling of the properties.

Eight of Samuel's associates in the scheme pleaded guilty prior to trial and await sentencing.

Samuel is to be sentenced April 30 by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez.

The case resulted from an investigation by the FBI and IRS-Criminal investigation.

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