Feds: Local businesses used to dupe lenders out of $2.5 million for fraudulent home sales

2012-12-10T21:15:00Z 2012-12-11T00:25:05Z Feds: Local businesses used to dupe lenders out of $2.5 million for fraudulent home salesLindsay Machak lindsay.machak@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | Federal officials allege a scheme involving a St. John business with the sale of more than 40 homes in the area bilked more than $2.5 million from lenders.

Minas Litos, Adrian Tartareanu and Daniela Tartareanu were arrested Monday in connection to the alleged home sale scheme, federal court records state.

The trio allegedly fronted about $600,000 on down payments of properties they owned to buyers who then were able to secure loans, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.

They were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 16 counts of wire fraud involving 14 Gary properties and one home in Cedar Lake, the indictment states.

Investigators allege Litos and Adrian Tartareanu owned Red Brick Investment Properties LLC, which is registered with the state as a St. John business, records state.

The two men also purchased a franchise called Homevestors of NWI, court documents state.

Both companies were used to buy and sell homes where the buyers were able to secure a loan from a third party without paying a down payment on the property, documents state.

Litos allegedly provided the down payments regularly with money from the Apella Corporation, which is registered with the Secretary of State as an active Schererville business.

Daniela Tartareanu worked as the office manager for the company, according to the indictment.

Each of the defendants allegedly attended closings for the homes and signed documents certifying the down payment funds had not come from the seller, court documents state.

The indictment also alleges the defendants submitted false information on loan applications to help buyers secure credit, deposited money into buyer's bank accounts to make them appear more creditworthy, provided money to buyers at or after closings and conducted bank transactions to hide who was actually paying the down payments.

In order to attract buyers, they told them rental income would cover the costs associated with owning rental property and a down payment would not be required, the indictment states.

According to investigators, once the properties had been sold, almost all of the buyers defaulted on the loans leaving many of the homes vacant.

When reached by phone late Monday night, Adrian Tartareanu declined to comment and referred all questions to his lawyer, who did not return a call from The Times.

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