WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 1, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — A federal grand jury in Mobile, Ala., returned a one-count indictment against a former real estate investor, charging him with conspiracy to commit mail fraud as part of a scheme related to public real estate foreclosure auctions held in southern Alabama, the Department of Justice announced today.
The indictment, returned on March 27, 2014, and entered today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, charges former real estate investor Chad E. Foster, of Theodore, Ala., with conspiracy to commit mail fraud affecting a financial institution. The department alleged that the scheme defrauded financial institutions, homeowners and others with a legal interest in selected foreclosure properties, for the unlawful purpose of obtaining money and property through fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises.
The indictment charges Foster with conspiring with others to, among other things, conduct secret, second auctions open only to members of the conspiracy, to make payoffs to and receive payoffs from co-conspirators and to divert money away from financial institutions, homeowners and others with a legal interest in selected properties. Several financial institutions suffered actual monetary losses as a result of the conspiracy. According to the charge, Foster participated in the mail fraud conspiracy beginning at least as early as February 2005 and continuing until at least January 2007.
“Conspiring to defraud financial institutions and distressed homeowners is a crime the Antitrust Division takes seriously,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The division will vigorously prosecute those who subvert the competitive process for their own gains.”
“The public demands that the integrity of our nation’s financial institutions and processes be free from fraud and deceit,” said Stephen E. Richardson, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Mobile Field Office. “These indictments in this investigation reflect the FBI’s unwavering commitment to protecting the citizen’s reliance on those processes.”
To date, nine individuals and two companies have pleaded guilty in connection with the department’s ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraudulent schemes in the Alabama real estate foreclosure auction industry.
The charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud affecting a financial institution carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, five years of supervised release, and a $1 million fine.
Today’s charge stems from an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s new Washington Criminal II Section and the FBI’s Mobile Field Office, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions in Alabama should call the Antitrust Division at 404-331-7116, or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm.
Today’s charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.