Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Lori Prichard reportingFalsifying loan documents, changing tax records, forging signatures -- we try to track down those involved in what the state says was blatant mortgage fraud. The State Department of Commerce's Division of Real Estate has just shut down one mortgage company and is going after the people involved.
The Division of Real Estate calls those involved in this alleged scam dishonest and fraudulent, but we spoke to one person who had his license revoked because of this, and he says the state is on a witch hunt.
Derek Miller, director of the Utah Division of Real Estate, said, "Looking into his business led us to a second mortgage officer, to a third, to a fourth, until we realized that pretty much all loan officers in that company were involved."
That business, Champion Mortgage, was operated out of a house that now sits empty and up for sale.
"Utah has the dishonor of being highly ranked in mortgage fraud, and it's because of people like these who cause this kind of fraud, this kind of misrepresentation," Miller said.
Those orders say Phillip Rowson and Leo Kanell, among other things, submitted fake letterheads and forged signatures. Eric Larsen is accused of inflated income information.
In addition, Miller says, "Mr. Eric Larsen gave the phone number of his assistant as the contact number when the bank would call to verify employment of the applicant."
But it doesn't stop there. Shawn Roach is also accused of altering credit and insurance documents. The state contends Carlos Lira inflated income statements, though Lira didn't admit to any wrongdoing. Each had his mortgage license revoked, each faces fines.
"They were all doing [it] for colleagues and co-workers and it was kinda an incestuous scam. They were trying to help each other out to get more and more properties," Miller said.
No one would respond to the charges, at least not on the record. One Champion Mortgage worker claims the state is looking to blame mortgage brokers for bad loans. He says the state is running them out of business and ruining their livelihoods. They also say they were strong-armed into signing documents saying they falsified information.
By the way, this was only an administrative proceeding. There will be no criminal charges filed in this case.
Champion Mortgage was not the only company involved. According to the Division of Real Estate, Tigh Gunderson of Envision Lending had his licensed revoked for submitting false information on loan applications and sending an e-mail reminding a manager to make false statements.
Also, Joshua Brown of New Concept Mortgage is accused of falsifying income and employment information. He didn't admit to any wrongdoing.