South Carolinans plead guilty to real estate loan fraud

Four co-conspirators bilked lenders out of thousands

A real estate lawyer, two mortgage brokers and a businessman admitted they conspired to skim money from fraudulent property sales in Charleston, S.C., the Charleston Post and Courier reported Tuesday.

The conspiracy bilked two mortgage lenders out of thousands of dollars, media reports said.

U.S. District Judge David Norton accepted guilty pleas from Tom Cannon, 59, and Ralph Miller, 44, both of North Charleston, S.C.; Jeffrey Spell, 41, of Mount Pleasant, S.C.; and Samantha Watford, 47, of Goose Creek, S.C., media reports said.

All three pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and each could receive up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, reports said.

According to evidence at the plea hearings, mortgage brokers Cannon and Watford created fake invoices for property repairs and pocketed the money, media reports said.

Spell, the attorney, altered financial forms to inflate buyers’ income and how much they received at closing, then split the windfall after closing, according to reports.

According to Gasser, Miller, who received part of the money, recruited buyers and sometimes promised to be a silent partner on a mortgage to get them to buy the property, reports said.

The fifth defendant, Anne Dodson, owner of Summerville-based Associated Realtors, pleaded guilty Oct. 25, according to AP.


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