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Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Mortgage Fraud Employee Benefit Program

by Tanta on 5/18/2008 05:25:00 PM

Thanks to Clint for this terrifying story in The Oregonian:

Fitzsimons, of Prineville, started his first residential construction company, called Sunrise Northwest, when he was 19. In August 2004, he joined forces with close friend Shannon Egeland, co-founding Desert Sun. . . .

At its peak, Desert Sun employed more than 110 people. The company's success enabled Fitzsimons to buy expensive toys, including a 2006 Ferrari 430 Spider, boasting a base ticket price in excess of $200,000.

Desert Sun had no retirement plan, but it did offer the employee homeownership program, which its Web site likened to a 401(k).

The plan seemed straightforward enough: Desert Sun would build a home for employees, taking care of design, materials and construction. Employees could buy the completed home from Desert Sun at cost and assume monthly mortgage payments, or sell it and split proceeds 50-50 with the company. . . .

The Desert Sun plan was not without risk for participants. The company pledged to cover all costs, but to fund the building, employees had to take out construction loans in their own names. . . .

Deschutes County property records indicate that the company enjoyed six-figure profits on the sales of some of the lots.

On July 5, 2007, for example, Desert Sun Holdings bought lot 24 in the Village Meadows subdivision in Sisters from Redmond-based Allen-Rose Homes for $155,000. That same day, the company flipped the lot to employee Roger Howell for $269,900.
And, of course, this all seems to have been effected by fraudulent mortgage applications. Read the whole thing, but put down your drink before the last paragraph.