Man Pretends To Be Hank Paulson To Make Fake $353,000 Mortgage Payment To Citi, Succeeds
Perhaps the most surreal fact about the case of 35 year old Bryan Gardner who back in 2009 sent CitiMortgage a $353,000 money order “drawn on the account of the ‘Secretary of the Treasury Hank M. Paulson, Jr.” in order to satisfy the final payment for a property in Bowie, Md, is that…. he succeeded. Fox Biz has more: “CitiMortgage erroneously accepted the document and credited Gardner’s mortgage account in full,” according to a Secret Service affidavit. Within months, Gardner sold the property for $254,900 and then “distributed the proceeds to others,” according to public records and the Secret Service affidavit. Investigators believe Gardner may have initially secured the mortgage under false pretenses. Through a spokesman, an FBI agent who investigates mortgage fraud said he was surprised the scheme succeeded, and a former Justice Department official who helped lead fraud enforcement efforts in the wake of the financial meltdown agreed, calling the approval of the money order “bizarre.” Perhaps what is more bizarre is just how a plan like this, which a 3 year old could concoct, but not even a 3 year old would be dumb enough to believe it would fly, actually succeeded. Just how big is the pool of “unclaimed” cash on deposit at CitiMortgage is there was i) no actual account was debited for the full amount and ii) nobody noticed that the Treasury department was paying off a private mortgage.
It gets even funnier as our law enforcers realize that merely the tip of the iceberg in mortgage fraud land is beyond ridiculous:
“I’ve never heard of a case where a mortgage for such a large amount was satisfied with a fraudulent instrument — an instrument that’s so on-its-face fraudulent,” said Paul Pelletier, who until a few months ago was a top-ranking official in the Justice Department’s Fraud Section. “You’d be amazed at how many people try and pass off (fraudulent) stuff. But does it ever work? No, it rarely works.”
In fact, Gardner’s alleged scheme didn’t work the first time he tried. In November 2008, two months before his successful attempt, Gardner sent a nearly identical money order to CitiMortgage, but it was rejected, according to the Secret Service. The only difference the second time around: Gardner requested slightly more money, court documents say.
Pelletier said this case is “extraordinarily unusual” not only because CitiMortgage ultimately honored a fraudulent money order, but the company allowed it to be credited to Gardner’s mortgage and likely issued a “satisfaction” on the mortgage, as reflected by Gardner’s ability to sell the property.
Check out the rest here…
And of course…