LANSING, MI – September 29, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Attorney General Mike Cox today announced that his office, with the assistance of the Michigan State Police, secured a guilty plea against Eddie Zaben of Dearborn for his role in a major mortgage fraud operation in Southeast Michigan. Zaben, 40, pled guilty to two counts of obtaining mortgage proceeds under false pretenses. Zaben will serve 2-10 years in prison and must pay $3 million in restitution. Zaben is the latest conviction resulting from a year-long investigation by the Michigan Mortgage Fraud Task Force and included efforts by the Michigan State Police, the U.S. Secret Service and the Attorney General’s office. Six other defendants have already been convicted for their roles in the scheme.
“Mortgage fraud damages our economy and exploits hardworking Michigan homeowners struggling to achieve the dream of homeownership,” said Cox.
The joint investigation revealed Zaben used his business, MYA’s Investment Group, LLC, to perpetrate large scale mortgage fraud. The scheme involved the financing of over two dozen properties in Southeast Michigan from 2004 to 2008.
For each property, a straw buyer was recruited and asked to sign the closing papers at Zaben’s office. Zaben presented fraudulent mortgage applications on their behalf containing falsified employment and income information. Records indicate that some or all of the proceeds disbursed at the closing went to Zaben. In at least one instance, the recruiter and straw buyer submitted a stolen ID to obtain a loan. They have been charged and convicted for their involvement. In addition, Zaben directed appraisers to fraudulently inflate appraisal values for the mortgage applications. Four appraisers involved in the scheme have already been charged and convicted.
As a result of the scheme, each of the properties has been foreclosed or is in the process of foreclosure. The $3 million in restitution will be distributed to the lenders who suffered losses. Zaben faces sentencing on January 25, 2011 before Judge Richard Skutt in Wayne County Circuit Court.
“I would like to thank the Michigan State Police and the Secret Service for their hard work with my office to secure convictions for every defendant charged in this mortgage fraud scheme,” said Cox.
Attorney General Mike Cox has made prosecuting mortgage fraud a priority for his office. In 2008, Cox created a mortgage fraud unit and teamed up with the Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies to tackle the problem. Cox’s office has charged 46 people or companies with a mortgage fraud-related offense in the last 24 months. Cox’s office has also hosted seven mortgage foreclosure forums to help families stay in their homes during these difficult times. More information about Attorney General Cox’s efforts to combat Mortgage Fraud can be found at www.michigan.gov/avoidforeclosure.