Thursday, April 11, 2013 | 2:22 p.m.
After a six-day trial, a Montana man was convicted Wednesday of nine counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft for his role in a Nevada mortgage fraud scheme, said Daniel G. Bogden, United States attorney for the district of Nevada.
Nicholas Lindsey, 40, of, Billings, Mont., faces up to 30 years in prison on each fraud count, as well as two years in prison on the aggravated identity theft count. He also faces fines of up to $1 million on each count.
He is scheduled to be sentenced July 22.
“Many innocent homeowners in Nevada have suffered because of this type of crime involving fraudulent residential mortgage transactions,” Bogden said.
“Since 2008 when the FBI and our office made mortgage fraud prosecutions a priority, we have investigated, charged and convicted hundreds of persons for federal mortgage fraud crimes and most of them are now serving time in federal prison,” he said.
According to the indictment and evidence presented to the jury, from about May to September 2006, Lindsey, who worked as a loan officer for Clear Mortgage and Signature Mortgage, recruited straw buyers to participate in what he described as a lucrative real estate investment opportunity by purchasing five homes in the Las Vegas area.
Evidence at trial demonstrated that Lindsey secured more than $3 million in mortgage loans by knowingly causing false information about the buyers’ income, assets and intent to occupy the homes to be placed in mortgage loan applications, prosecutors said.
Once the mortgages were approved, Lindsey fraudulently diverted to his bank account a portion of the proceeds disbursed from escrow and used the money for his own benefit, officials said.
Lindsey realized additional profits by living in or renting out properties in the buyers’ names, officials said.
In addition to the five homes of which the buyers were aware, Lindsey stole two buyers’ identities and used their personal information to purchase three additional properties in their names, prosecutors said.
The evidence established that Lindsey leased two of these properties and collected rental income and used the third as his own personal residence, officials said.
After collecting profits, Lindsey stopped making the mortgage payments on the properties and allowed all eight homes to default in the borrowers’ names, causing an estimated loss to lenders of $1.6 million, officials said.