Boulder man pleads guilty in $32M mortgage fraud, identity theft scheme

BOULDER — Michael Leslie, owner of mortgage origination firm Montage Mortgage, pleaded guilty Friday guilty to federal bank fraud and aggravated identity theft charges, according to the U.S. Justice Department. “Through [his Colorado mortgage origination and financing] business entities, Leslie sold residential mortgage loans to investors, including an FDIC-insured bank in Texas,” according to a government news release. “Between October 2015 and October 2017, Leslie devised and executed a scheme to defraud the victim bank by selling it 144 fraudulent residential mortgage loans valued at $31,908,806.88.” Colorado Secretary of State records show a Montage Mortgage Inc. with registration that became delinquent in 2018.  In his plea agreement, Leslie admitted that “the borrowers listed on these 144 fraudulent loans were real individuals, but they had no idea that their identities had been used as part of the sale of the fraudulent loans,” the Justice Department said.  Leslie obtained information about these real individuals from previous, legitimate real estate transactions with Montage or from loan refinance solicitations in which the victims gave Montage permission to access credit reports.  “To execute this scheme, Leslie forged signatures on closing documents and fabricated and altered credit reports as well as title documents, often by using the names of legitimate companies,” according to the Justice Department. “The fraudulent real estate transactions were never filed with the respective counties in which the properties were located, there were no closings, and no liens were ever recorded.  Through numerous bank accounts for the various business entities and his personal accounts, the defendant used money in a Ponzi-like fashion from prior fraudulent loans sold to the victim bank to fund future fraudulent loans.” The case was investigated by the Denver office of the FBI, and the offices of the Inspector General for both the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.  Leslie, who is free on $50,000 bond, appeared in court Friday remotely. He has yet to be sentenced. © 2020 BizWest Media LLC
Source: BizWest

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