The law firm of Parker Waichman LLP is at the forefront of an investigation into identify theft and mortgage fraud that has victimized dozens of people in Queens and Long Island, New York. The fraud, which has left its victims facing financial ruin, has resulted in two arrests and many more are expected.
Two employees of Griffin Mortgage Co. in Jackson Heights, Queens were arrested Monday for their alleged role in the schemes. According to the Long Island newspaper Newsday, the perpetrators allegedly stole ID information from their victims and used it to fraudulently obtain mortgages. So far, there are at least two dozen victims, but it could get far worse. Herb Waichman, a partner with the Long Island law firm Parker Waichman LLP, told Newsday that the firm has interviewed a number of people who are allegedly victims of the Griffin Mortgage employees. â€œWhat we have right now is just the tip of the iceberg,â€ Waichman told the newspaper. â€œItâ€™s not a pretty picture.â€
Arrested Monday were Jacob Milton, 41, business manager and director of Griffin Mortgage and Nira Niru, 38, his sister and a secretary at the company. They are accused of purchasing hundreds of homes under false pretenses. According to Newsday, they both face charges of grand larceny, identity theft and scheme to defraud.
Police first learned of the scheme when six people complained that someone had fraudulently opened Home Depot accounts in their names. All of those victims had applied for mortgages through Griffin Mortgage. But it soon became apparent that the alleged fraud extended far beyond Home Depot credit cards. Police allege that the Griffin employees had used information provided on mortgage applications to purchase homes unbeknownst to their victims. According to Newsday, information from one victim, a waiter who made $30,000 a year, was used to purchases three homes. That waiter now owes $1.3 million in mortgages for which he never applied. Another victim told Newsday that Milton obtained a mortgage for him that was $100,000 higher than it should have been. Then Milton arranged to refinance that mortgage and allegedly kept $40,000 for himself.
By early Monday night, police had reportedly searched the Griffin Mortgage office, as well as homes owned by Milton in the Long Island suburbs of Elmhurst and Deer Park. Documents and 10 computers were seized in those searches. It is expected that the ongoing investigation into the Griffin Mortgage fraud will lead to many more arrests.
What is most disturbing, however, is that the Griffin Mortgage fraud investigation will lead to countless more victims. These people may be saddled with mortgages they know nothing about, and it could be years before they can undo the financial damage caused by this crime.