CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Oct. 19, 2009: A Guyanese-owned firm in Richmond Hill, Queens, has been accused of using straw buyers to flip properties for their equity.
Peggy Persaud, a loan officer for the GuyAmerican Funding Corporation located at 12209 Liberty Ave, South Richmond Hill, NY, arranged loans from banks while Ravi Persaud and Cheddi Goberdhan, lawyers, face 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million in the mortgage fraud announced late last week by Manhattan U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara.
The Guyanese were among 41 busted across the city in Operation Bad Deeds, which uncovered eight separate cases in which people were accused of obtaining loans through fraudulent means by falsifying mortgage applications, flipping properties and stripping equity from properties.
Prosecutors said that the largest scheme involved those connected to GuyAmerican. Peggy Persaud, as a manager of a branch office of GuyAmerican, allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions based on fraudulent loans submitted to lenders.
Other GuyAmerican employees busted include Orette Killikelly, Elton Lord, Rafick Baksh, Mahamood Hussain and George Esso. They are accused of recruiting distressed sellers and straw buyers, flipping properties multiple times between different straw buyers and stripping the equity from those properties as they were resold with inflated market values.
For example, a property purchased by a straw buyer in December 2006 in Queens, New York, for $355,000 was resold to another straw buyer in April 2007 — only four months later — for $680,000, to the benefit of the co-conspirators in the scheme. In addition, the defendants often arranged for a single straw buyer to purchase multiple properties within days or weeks of each other, without disclosing the prior purchases on the subsequent loan applications.
The loans submitted to the lenders allegedly contained numerous false statements about the straw buyers who often had little or no assets and modest or no incomes. Thus, the loans contained false statements about the borrowers` employment, income, assets and exiting debt. In addition, the loan applications purportedly falsely represented that the straw buyers intended to reside in the properties, when they did not. Two lawyers, Goberdhan and Ravi Persaud, who acted as the closing attorneys for most of the transactions and facilitated the fraud by allegedly disbursing illicit payments to co-conspirators, were also charged.