A former Pauma Valley woman pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Portland, Ore., to mail fraud charges while orchestrating a large-scale mortgage fraud scheme.
Wanda Coleman, 59, who now lives in Glenoma, Wash., admitted to using fraudulent loan applications and supporting documents to convince lenders to fund more than $20 million in loans on approximately three dozen properties in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, according to Bruce Riordan, assistant United States Attorney Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney Central District of California.
Coleman faces a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison when she is sentenced on Jan. 25, 2013, Riordan said, in a news release.
An FBI investigation led to the case being brought against Coleman by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California, Riordan said. The case was transferred to the District of Oregon, which is near Coleman’s new residence, for the entry of the guilty plea and sentencing, he said.
According to court documents, Coleman and several co-conspirators fraudulently obtained funds from financial institutions by making false statements on, and omitting material information from, loan applications submitted to purchase houses in the names of "straw buyers," Riordan wrote, in the news release.
"Coleman identified properties for sale across Southern California and offered to pay the sellers substantially more than their asking price, in return for the sellers’ agreement to refund the excess amount to Coleman or companies that she controlled," Riordan said.
Straw buyers were recruited by Coleman to submit fraudulent applications for loans to buy the houses, he said.
"Various participants in the scheme prepared fraudulent mortgage applications that contained false information regarding the buyers’ employment, income and assets, and then submitted the bogus applications to lenders.
"To corroborate the false claims, co-conspirators forged bank statements and prepared other fraudulent documents, which were submitted to lenders."
Financial institutions funded loans totaling more than $20 million in relation to approximately 30 properties across Southern California as a result of scheme, Riordan wrote.
"The straw buyers ultimately defaulted on the loans, resulting in foreclosure of the properties and losses of more than $11 million to the lenders."