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Westwood loan officer admits role in $2 million mortgage fraud

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Westwood loan officer admitted today in federal court that he participated in a $2 million mortgage-fraud scam that used phony documents and “straw buyers” to in three states.

Raffi Oghlian, 38, worked for a time as a loan officer at MJS Lending Inc., in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., which was in the business of making mortgage loans.

Oghlian admitted during his guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Camden today that he conspired with others to get mortgage loans for unqualified buyers by ginning up applications and other documents.

The crew profited from the sales of townhouses and other homes in Newark and Atlanta, as well as properties in Naples, Fla., owned by developers seeking to sell off inventory, U. S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said this afternoon.

Oghlian’s co-conspirators recruited “straw buyers” with good credit scores but no financial resources to quality for mortgages to buy the properties at the inflated rates, Fishman said.

To do so, Oghlian “created false and fraudulent loan applications that contained false information, concerning, among other things, the straw buyers’ employment, income, assets and intended use of the properties,” he said.

Oghlian “also admitted creating false documents to support the phony loan applications,” Fishman added.

Once the loans were approved and the mortgage lenders delivered the loan proceeds — in connection with real estate closings — Oghlian’s co-conspirators “took a portion of the proceeds, having funds wired or checks deposited into various accounts they controlled,” Fishman said.

They also “distributed a portion of the proceeds to other members of the conspiracy for their respective roles,” he said.

For his participation in seven transactions, Oghlian admitted he earned fees as the loan officer, pleading guilty today to a single charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

As a result, MJS Leasing released the roughly $2 million.

U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle set a March 13 sentencing date so that federal authorities could continue investigating and building their case against other defendants.

Fishman credited the FBI’s Newark Field Office, as well as the Newark office of IRS-Criminal Investigation, for their roles in the case, presented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.

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