MIAMI – After previously pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft, Ana Amador and Sunilda Casilla were sentenced in federal court to prison and ordered to pay restitution. Amador was sentenced to 72 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay more than $1.6 million in restitution. Casilla was sentenced to 60 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and also ordered to pay more than $1.6 million in restitution.
According to facts admitted at the change of plea, Amador and Casilla submitted fraudulent loan applications in connection with sham real estate transactions. The two would look for vacant properties with a high market value. They used the personal identifying information of former clients to apply for the mortgages from private mortgage lenders. The lenders would fund the loans for the purported purchase of the properties, and Amador and Casilla would pocket the loan proceeds. There never was a genuine sale or property purchase.
Amador and Casilla were well versed in the mortgage industry and knew the details of the loan process, including the documents to be completed to obtain a loan. Amador worked as the president of a title company for a number of years. Casilla was a former attorney who worked with Amador doing real estate closings. They knew that “hard money lenders” would loan money for the purchase of properties as long as the property had sufficient value to serve as collateral to the loan. These lenders loaned money to high-risk clients unable to obtain a conventional mortgage for various reasons, to include poor credit risk, no verifiable income, or insufficient employment history. Amador and Casilla also knew that if they could convince the mortgage lenders to loan money for the purported purchase of a property, they could obtain the loan proceeds before anyone knew that a property wasn’t being purchased.
Amador and Casilla located high-end vacant residences that they would purportedly “buy” using someone else’s name, credit and identity to secure a hard money lender mortgage. Once the “sale” was complete, the mortgage proceeds would be wired from the hard money lender to a fictitious title company controlled by Amador and Casilla. The owner of the property did not know the real estate transaction occurred. The buyer of the property did not know they had purchased it. Instead, they made it seem as if a sale had been completed, thereby having the mortgage company wire the mortgage proceeds to their title companies, after which they would withdraw the money. Utilizing this scheme, they were responsible for an intended loss of more than $3.3 million and an actual loss to the victims of more than $1.6 million. They each were ordered to pay more than $1.6 in restitution.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Edwin S. Bonano, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General; Brian Swain, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service; and the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Inspector General, announced the sentences.
Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General; U.S. Secret Service; and the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Inspector General, investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Bardfeld prosecuted the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gabrielle Charest-Turken is handling asset forfeiture.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 21-cr-60312.