The owners and co-founders of a Massachusetts short sale assistance
company stand accused to defrauding Fannie
Mae, Freddie Mac, the Department of Housing and Urban Development,
and others on nearly 100 short sale transactions in a scheme to “steal
undisclosed and improper fees.”
According to the Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, Gabriel Tavarez and Jaime Mulvihill founded and operated Loss Mitigation Services, a company that negotiated with lenders and mortgage guarantors approval of short sales in lieu of foreclosure.
A short sale occurs when the mortgage debt on the home is
greater than the sale price, and the lender or mortgage owner agrees to take a
loss on the transaction.
Court documents show that Loss Mitigation Services supposedly acted on behalf of underwater homeowners to conduct a short sale on their house.
Typically, lenders and mortgage guarantors forbid short sale
negotiators from taking any proceeds from the short sale.
But, the authorities claim that that is exactly what Tavarez
and Mulvihill did.
According to the court documents, from 2014 to 2017, Tavarez
and Mulvihill allegedly falsely claimed to homeowners, real estate agents, and
closing attorneys that lenders had agreed to pay Loss Mitigation Services fees
known as “seller paid closing costs” or “seller concessions” from the proceeds
of the short sales.
But, the court documents state that the lenders made no such
But as a result of Loss Mitigation Services’ alleged
actions, when the short sales closed, settlement agents paid Loss Mitigation Services
the fees in question, which were typically 3% of the short sale price, above
and beyond any fees to real estate agents, closing attorneys and others
involved in the transaction.
According to court documents, in order to deceive the
lenders or guarantors about the nature of the short sale payouts, Tavarez or
Mulvihill allegedly filed false short sale transaction documents, including
altered settlement statements, fabricated contracts, and mortgage preapproval
Additionally, Tavarez allegedly created fake letters from
mortgage brokers claiming that the brokers had approved buyers for financing,
in order to convince lenders to approve the additional fees.
In total, the scheme allegedly defrauded lenders and
investors out of nearly $500,000 in proceeds on about 90 short sale transactions.
Tavarez and Mulvihill are both charged with conspiracy to
commit wire fraud, while Tavarez was also charged with aggravated identity
The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a
sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a
fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. The charge of aggravated
identity theft carries a mandatory two-year sentence that must run
consecutively to any other sentence imposed, one year of supervised release,
and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss.
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