Two defendants in reverse mortgage scheme sentenced to 24 months
Two defendants who partook in a reverse mortgage scheme that bilked Genworth Financial Home Equity Access and the Federal Housing Administration out of millions of dollars received more than two years in prison for their involvement in the scam. The United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida accused four people of using their positions as loan officers and title agents to market fraudulent reverse mortgages to senior citizens in Florida. Two of those defendants, Palm Beach, Fla. resident Marcos Echevarria, 29, and Kimberly Mackey, 46, of Pittsburgh, Pa., received sentences and steep restitution payments. The judge gave Echevarria two years in prison, while Mackey was sentenced to 60 months in prison. The two defendants will have to pay $1.6 million in restitution. Authorities claim participants in the scam altered real estate appraisals for senior citizens who wanted reverse mortgages. Reverse mortgages generally involve a firm buying a borrower's equity and then making payments to the borrower. A third and fourth defendant Louis Gendason, 42, of Delray Beach, Fla., and John Incandela, 24, of Palm Beach, Fla., also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They will be sentenced on Dec. 16. Authorities claim altogether the defendants ended up creating a $2.5 million Home Equity Conversion Mortgage fraud scheme. Gendason and Incandela were loan officers at 1st Continental Mortgage in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, Fla. In their respective roles, the parties solicited seniors to refinance into reverse mortgages financed by Genworth. To qualify unqualified reverse mortgage borrowers, they inflated property values and submitted those values fraudulently to Genworth. Genworth approved $2.5 million in reverse mortgage loans that the FHA then insured. Mackey in her role as title agent and proprietor of Real Estate One Land Services Inc. closed the Genworth loans, but never paid off the borrowers existing mortgage loans. She received loan proceeds from Genworth and attempted to hide fraudulent loan closings by preparing a false HUD-1 settlement document. Mackey diverted Genworth proceeds to bank accounts controlled by her co-conspirators. To cover their tracks, authorities say the conspirators launched a loan modification scheme to try and hide the existence of the Genworth reverse mortgage deals from the homeowners' original lenders who still had unpaid debts. "To this end, Gendason, Incandela, and Mackey conspired to create fictitious offers to buy some of the borrowers properties, in the form of short sales," the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida said in a statement. "In other instances, to hide the existence of the Genworth reverse mortgage loan from the original lenders, the defendants made monthly mortgage payments to the borrowers original lenders." Write to Kerri Panchuk.