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Former Florida Title Agency Owner Indicted in $47M Fraud Scheme

March 1, 2011

The former owner of a Sarasota, Fla.-based title agency was among 14 people charged in a large-scale mortgage fraud conspiracy involving $47 million in loans and 22 properties.

According to the indictment, Lisa Rotolo, a title agent and owner of Diamond Title of Sarasota, Inc., allegedly helped the other defendants by creating false HUD-1s. Rotolo was aided at her company by Bonnie Katz, who worked as a settlement and escrow officer at Diamond Title of Sarasota. Katz has been charged as well.

The indictment alleges the defendants’ activities spanned over 10 years – between at least October 1997 and March 2008. The indictment accuses the defendants’ use of, among other means, false statements and fraudulent representations on financing documents to obtain loans from nearly a dozen federally insured banks and private mortgage lenders doing business in the Sarasota, Fla., area.

The false and fraudulent statements made by the defendants included, but were not limited to, the true seller and purchaser/borrower in the transaction; the property’s actual purchase/sale price; the purchaser/borrower’s intended use of the property; the purchaser/borrower’s income, assets and liabilities; and the amount and source of the equity contributed to the purchase of the property by the purchaser/borrower.

It was reported Rotolo and Katz allegedly assisted in distributing "profits" from the scheme at closings. When properties were purchased from outsiders, the group would use two sets of settlement documents. One set for the sellers and another set for the banks indicating a fictional higher sale price in order to generate similar "profits."

As a result of the defendants’ fraudulent conduct, most of the residential properties referenced in the indictment have been, or are now, the subject of foreclosure proceedings.

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