From the Star Ledger:
They applied for mortgages using phony pay stubs showing wages never earned. They forged tax documents and bank statements. And they assumed the identities of people who had moved out of the country, hoping to use their clean credit records to trick bank officials.
Those were among the allegations federal prosecutors outlined Wednesday as they unveiled charges against 28 real estate agents, investors, accountants and others caught in a sweeping mortgage-fraud sting in northern New Jersey.
Authorities said the investigation provided a window into shadowy criminal enterprises in which the defendants acted like con artists to dupe banks into loaning hundreds of thousands of dollars to people who had no intention of paying it back.
The investigation targeted a string of separate schemes involving more than 17 properties in New Jersey. But the defendants didn’t really want the property; they wanted the money, authorities said. In total, the defendants tried to bilk more than $5.5 million from lending institutions.
From the WSJ:
Federal prosecutors charged a New Jersey woman with running a $45 million Ponzi scheme, alleging she raised millions of dollars under the pretenses of investing in real estate and instead, among other uses, gambled it away.
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office says Antoinette Hodgson, a 58-year-old woman from Montclair, N.J., solicited tens of millions of dollars from New York and New Jersey investors, telling them she would buy and renovate residential real estate and either re-sell or rent it.
Ms. Hodgson, who was charged with one count of wire fraud and one of conspiracy, was to be released Wednesday on a $6 million personal-recognizance bond secured by 24 properties.
“If this was a Ponzi scheme, it was a pretty inept Ponzi scheme,” said Ms. Hodgson’s attorney, Jack Arseneault.
Prosecutors said Ms. Hodgson promised investors high rates of return, saying she “was an expert at purchasing foreclosed residential properties in New Jersey.” Prosecutors said she told one investor that if he and his son invested $2.8 million, they would get a 30% return.