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3 Arrested in Real Estate Fraud Case

Suspects used stolen or fake identities to obtain about 250 mortgages and defraud lenders of more than $30 million, federal authorities say.

March 30, 2004|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

In what prosecutors describe as one of the largest cases of its kind in Orange County history, three people were arrested Monday on suspicion of defrauding financial institutions of more than $30 million since 1998 in a banking and real estate scheme.

In early-morning raids at the suspects' homes, FBI agents arrested Alberto Mordoki, 44, and Mirella Mordoki, 35, a married couple from Fullerton, and Alejandro Sady-Kennedy, 44, of Ladera Ranch.

The three were charged with conspiracy, bank fraud and identity theft, federal crimes for which each could be fined $1 million and be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

A fourth suspect, James Douglas Lus, 43, a Canadian citizen, was being sought.

FBI spokesman Bob Cunnane said the elaborate alleged scheme, which took investigators six months to unravel, used at least 50 stolen or fictitious identities to fraudulently obtain about 250 mortgage loans. "It was very sophisticated and very far-reaching," he said.

In addition to posing as buyers and sellers of properties, the suspects sometimes used stolen or fraudulent identities to apply for loans as real estate agents or mortgage brokers, Cunnane said.

They often supported their loan applications with fraudulent W-2s, pay stubs and bank statements, Cunnane said.

They occasionally posed as landlords providing verification of borrowers' income and rent history, gift donors providing money for down payments, or insurance companies providing homeowners' insurance, Cunnane said.

And frequently, Cunnane said, they would resell fraudulently obtained properties to themselves at a profit using false identities and inflated appraisals.

"Some properties were [turned over] up to four or five times," said Greg Staples, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case. "Then they'd take out a second [mortgage] and let it foreclose. This is the most extensive fraud scheme I've seen."

The case came to the attention of law enforcement officials when several loan officers reported discrepancies.

The Mordokis and Sady-Kennedy, who investigators say spent proceeds of the alleged scheme on lavish homes and luxury cars, are scheduled for a hearing Wednesday morning to determine bail, Staples said. Arraignment is set for April 19.

"The synergy between the identity theft and bank fraud is particularly egregious in this case," he said.

"People are finding out they are in default on property they never even knew that they purchased."

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