According to an announcement by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, a woman was sentenced to spend more than 10 years in prison for her role in a fraudulent debt elimination scheme that involved more than $38 million. The woman will also have to spend five years on supervised release after she completes her prison sentence.
The fraud scheme
The Westchester woman owned the Terra Foundation, which was based in Valhalla. During 2011 and 2012, she partnered with two others to operate the company. The trio presented the company as a mortgage debt elimination business that could erase mortgage debt in exchange for fees. Homeowners who were in danger of foreclosure paid the company fees. The company would then send legal-appearing documents to the mortgage lenders and would file purported loan discharges with the county clerks’ offices. This would result in the mortgages appearing to disappear. However, they would be reinstated after she had received the clients’ fees.
Extent of the losses
The woman and her co-conspirators filed more than 60 fraudulent discharges of mortgages with a total principal balance of $38 million. They reportedly preyed on vulnerable homeowners who were desperate during the housing crisis. She was ordered to pay restitution of $694,450 and to forfeit $138,941.86. The woman was convicted following a two-week trial in June 2019.
White-collar criminal offenses can result in lengthy prison sentences, stiff fines, and substantial restitution payments. People who learn that they are being investigated might want to get help from experienced criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible. In some cases, the attorneys might be able to negotiate with the federal prosecutor to avoid the charges being filed in exchange for the payment of restitution. If an indictment has already been handed down, the attorneys may litigate the matters on behalf of their clients to try to secure the most favorable resolutions to the charges as possible.