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Ridgefield Park Man Gets House Arrest For $495,000 'Shotgun' Real Estate Scheme

Martin Luther King U.S. District Courthouse in Newark
Martin Luther King U.S. District Courthouse in Newark Photo Credit: COURTESY: justice.gov

A Ridgefield Park man was sentenced Thursday to three years of supervised release, including one year of house arrest for using bogus information and simultaneous loan applications at various banks to fraudulently obtain home equity lines of credit -- a practice known as “shotgunning.”

Rafael Popoteur, 65, admitted in federal court in Newark in June 2017 that he conspired with real estate broker Michael Arroyo, 60, of the Bronx, who was sentenced Thursday to 21 months in federal prison.

From 2012 through January 2014, Arroyo and others conspired to fraudulently obtain multiple home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) from banks on residential properties in New Jersey and New York, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.

As the U.S. attorney explained:

Popoteur was a client of Arroyo and another broker.

From 2012 through January 2014, the trio conspired with others to fraudulently obtain multiple HELOCs from banks on a residential property in New Jersey.

To get the banks to extend lines of credit they would not have otherwise approved, Popoteur and the real estate brokers executed a quitclaim deed to transfer ownership of a Ridgefield Park property to Popoteur, who lived there.

Popoteur and the real estate brokers then applied for three HELOCs from multiple banks using the village property as collateral.

The conspirators didn't disclose that the properties offered as collateral were either already subject to senior liens that had not yet been recorded or that the same property was offered as collateral for a line of credit from another lender.

The applications also inflated Popoteur’s income.

The value of the Ridgefield Park property was "far less than the amount of the HELOC loans Popoteur and the others applied for," Carpenito said.

The banks eventually issued loans to Popoteur in excess of $495,000 -- portions of which were given to the real estate brokers and others.

Popoteur defaulted on all three HELOC loans, part of $3.5 million the banks lost to the scammers.

Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Federal Finance Housing Agency Office of Inspector General and FBI special agents with making the case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of the U.S. Attorney’s Criminal Division in Newark and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin DiGregory of the FHFA Office of the Inspector General.

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