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CFO Sink Announces Joint Investigation Arrests in Mortgage Fraud Crackdown

7/14/2010

CONTACT: Kevin Cate or Jennifer Hirst, 850-413-2842

Over $2 Million in Fraudulent Mortgage Loans Lands Six in Jail  
 
TALLAHASSEE— Florida CFO Alex Sink today announced the arrests of six criminals involved in a mortgage fraud scam that resulted in more than $2 million in fraudulent mortgages.  The arrests are the result of a joint investigation by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations’ Miami Field Office and the Miami Dade State Attorney’s Office Mortgage Fraud Prosecution Unit.
 
“This is a prime example of the excellent collaboration among Florida’s law enforcement and investigative agencies, including my insurance fraud detectives,” said CFO Sink.  “Mortgage fraud is an insidious crime that continues to be a drag on Florida’s overall economy and hurts all Floridians, including borrowers, neighborhoods scarred by foreclosures from mortgage scams, and lenders weakened by loans that won’t be repaid.”
 
Investigators discovered that Alan Weitz, vice president of Bal Bay Properties, and his son Brandon Weitz, working for the same company, recruited “straw buyers” who were offered $3,000 each to allow their names to be used on mortgage loan applications to purchase homes with the understanding that the properties would be quit-claimed over to an actual buyer.
 
The following six individuals were charged with First Degree Grand Theft on various counts:
 
·        Sean McCarthy, 28, of Plantation, two counts
·        Brett Lewin, 27, of Plantation, one count
·        Corey Lewin, 30, of Davie, one count
·        Daniel Scala, 28, of Miami, one count
·        Alan Weitz, 58, of Ft. Lauderdale, four counts
·        Brandon Weitz, 28, of Miami Beach, one count
 
“Criminals are motivated by profit and ICE’s Asset Identification and Removal Group (AIRG) is an effective tool that HSI uses to remove the profit from criminal acts,” said Anthony Mangione, special agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Miami.  “Special Agents assigned to our AIRG take on the complex task of identifying and seizing money and other assets that are the ill-gotten gains of all types of criminal activity.”
 
“With the creation of our Mortgage Fraud Prosecution Unit, individuals who think that mortgage fraud is an easy, no-risk crime will be having a rude and painful awakening,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.  “Our effective law enforcement partnership with insurance fraud detectives is already yielding tangible results, as these arrests show.”
 
All homes purchased in this scam eventually went into foreclosure as a result of unsuccessfully finding buyers for the properties.
 
The Division of Insurance Fraud made 1,077 insurance fraud-related arrests in FY 2009/2010, and investigates various forms of insurance fraud, including health, life, auto, property and workers’ compensation insurance.  Depending on the estimated loss amount, DIF will pay up to $25,000 for information directly leading to an arrest and conviction.  Anyone with information about this or any other suspected insurance fraud is asked to call CFO Sink’s Fraud Fighters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445 or visit to www.MyFloridaCFO.com/fraud.