A 59-year-old Washington woman pleaded guilty Thursday to spearheading a $20-million mortgage fraud scheme on about 30 properties in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, prosecutors said.
Wanda Coleman, who used to live in Pauma Valley in San Diego County and now resides in Glenoma, Wash., admitted one count of mail fraud, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Riordan. She faces up to 30 years in prison when sentenced Jan. 25.
Authorities in Southern California started the investigation, which was eventually transferred to federal courts in Oregon, closer to Coleman's home.
Coleman and several others conspired to fraudulently obtain loans by purchasing homes in the names of various straw buyers, according to prosecutors. Coleman offered to pay the sellers substantially more than the asking price as long as they agreed to give her the difference, prosecutors said.
The loan applications in the name of straw buyers recruited by Coleman inflated employment records, income and assets, prosecutors said. Bank statements and other documents were forged to back up the bogus information, prosecutors said. Coleman received more than $20 million in loans for about 30 properties in the three counties, prosecutors said. The straw buyers defaulted on the loans, leading to foreclosure and losses of more than $11 million to the lenders, prosecutors said.
- City News Service