As part of Operation Stolen Dreams, on June 20, 2011, Brett Matheson, 46, President and CEO of Maricopa Property Investment Solutions, Inc., pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a $50 million mortgage fraud scheme based in Phoenix. Two others have also entered guilty pleas and are awaiting sentencing.
According to the government's case, from about January 2005 through September 2006, Maricopa Property Investment Solutions, Inc. arranged to use "staw" buyers (recruited at real estate seminars by Matheson) to hide the true identity of property buyers from lenders. Further, Matheson facilitated the submission of mortgage loan applications for unqualified straw buyers. Those applications contained false information regarding employment, income, assets and the applicant's intent to occupy homes as their primary residence. In some cases, the application were supported by altered pay stubs, false bank statements, and bogus verifications of employment and deposit. For example, Matheson personally obtained financing for the purchase of two properties using altered pay stubs and bogus verifications of employment.
At closing, a portion of the seller proceeds were kicked back to an entity controlled by Matheson and his co-conspirators. The kickbacks were often used on Matheson's personal expenses or to make down payments to qualify additional "straw" buyers for financing on other properties. In total, 52 properties were involved in the scheme with nearly $50 million in fraudulent loans, which lead to nearly $20 million in lender losses.
Facing the Music
A conviction for a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud is punishable by a maximum fine of $1 million, a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years, or both, and a term of supervised release of five years.