Fraudulent appraisals and false loan applications were used to obtain more than $4 million in loans in a mortgage fraud scheme involving 83 homes in low-income neighborhoods of Indianapolis, prosecutors allege.

An Indianapolis man, John Wagner, was charged Thursday for his role in the scheme, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana said.

Wagner, 46, allegedly established a company called Family Connections LLC and encouraged investors to buy three to four properties at a time with no money down. Wagner obtained false down payments, which were “fronted” for second sales, prosecutors said. Investors who provided Wagner with down payments allegedly received their fronted down payment plus $500 at closing.

The investors were paid $10,000 per property at closing by Romero Brice, the owner of Promise Land Mortgage, who allegedly submitted false loan packages to the lender to obtain the mortgages. Brice pleaded guilty in September to related mortgage fraud charges.

All of the fraudulent mortgages were obtained between 2000 and 2002 through ABN-AMRO, a Michigan lender. ABN-AMRO approved and financed at least 83 loans, and Wagner was directly involved in 53 loans totaling $2.7 million, prosecutors said.

He is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of money laundering. If convicted, Wagner faces up to 15 years and a maximum possible fine of $500,000, prosecutors said.

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