Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mortgage Fraud - Chuck Gallagher Ethics Speaker Discusses FBI Report

In an effort to deter mortgage fraud the FBI has listed (from their investigations) typical fraud schemes. Some are listed below:

Backward Applications: After identifying a property to purchase, a borrower customizes his/her income to meet the loan criteria.

In effect the borrowers determine from the lender what the criteria should be to qualify for the mortgage loan. Then income is "customized" or fabricated to meet the criteria. This sort of fraud is usually a single loan fraud. The fraud can involve others - as mortgage professionals may coach the borrower thus participating in the fraud.

In many cases, as I've addressed mortgage industry professionals, we find that such frauds involve the mortgage broker knowing that they are paid based on production and production can't take place without sufficient income.

Air Loans: These are non-existent property loans where there is usually no collateral. An example would be where a broker invents borrowers and properties, establishes accounts for payments and maintains custodial accounts for escrows. They may set up an office with a bank of telephones, each one used as the employer, appraiser, credit agency, etc. for verification purposes.

These loans represent a clear intent to commit fraud. Many convictions this past year have involved the complete creation of fabricated documentation. Other than "money for nothing" these frauds when caught will result in prison time.

While presentations to industry professionals focus on various types of frauds and the consequences that follow...rarely have I seen this other than from experienced criminals.

The last fraud scheme identified by the FBI that will be reviewed in this blog is:

Silent Seconds: The buyer of a property borrows the down payment from the seller through the issuance of a non-disclosed second mortgage. The primary lender believes the borrower has invested his own money in the down payment, when in fact, it is borrowed. The second mortgage may not be recorded to further conceal its status from the primary lender.

This fraud is common especially with first time home buyers, low income buyers or those who are new at investing in real estate for profit. In some cases, borrowers don't see the fraud involved in this scheme. Based on experience there are two types of people involved: (1) folks who, as first time buyers, borrow the money from relatives and knowingly don't disclose to the lender (otherwise they wouldn't qualify) or (2) folks who clearly don't have the fund to purchase the real estate and use funds (401(k) loans, personal loans from relatives or friends. or personal loans from undisclosed lenders.

For information about presentations related to ethics choices and mortgage fraud contact Chuck Gallagher at

Mortgage Fraud - Prison and 1.2 Million in Restitution - Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher Comments

Manager of Nations Title Agency of Florida, Robert W. Hulbert, Jr., age 46, was sentenced to three years in prison, 4 years supervised release upon release from prison, restitution of $1.2 million and forfeiture of more than $4 million of assets.

Not only was Hulbert manager of Nations Title where several mortgage frauds were obtained, but he was personally involved in obtaining fraudulent loans on two properties he acquired in his name.

According to the Mortgage Fraud Blog (an excellent source for up to date material on mortgage frauds):

According to court documents, the scheme operated this way: Conspirators negotiated to buy residential real estate at a given price. A conspirator who was a licensed real estate appraiser then fraudulently appraised the property for a substantially higher amount than the actual negotiated price. Documents reflecting the inflated appraisal price were submitted to a lender, along with other fraudulent documents, to obtain first and second mortgage loans on the property. The total amount of the loans was at or near the inflated price.

At the closing on the property, the difference between the actual sales price and the inflated appraisal price—the proceeds of the fraud—was disbursed to one or more of the conspirators as an “assignment fee” or “payoff of third mortgage” that did not exist. During the course of the scheme, the conspirators obtained a total of about $17.7 million in mortgage loans, which would not have been approved but for the fraudulent documents. The conspirators received approximately $4.024 million in proceeds from the fraudulent transactions.

As a business ethics speaker, I am finding that mortgage fraud (of one sort or another) is capturing the attention of law enforcement as the housing market declines. More and more institutions are finding it necessary to reinforce their ethical rules as it relates to this kind of business.

Every choice has a consequence. Having spent time in federal prison for unethical conduct, I understand how easy it is to become embroiled in unethical activity. Today I speak to groups about the Truth About Consequences.

As a result of unethical behavior Hulbert will find his life will dramatically change. He will get up early - go to work (in prison) - be back at 3:30 and be standing for one of the six or so times a day he will be counted. He will walk into prison a nobody and will be treated as such till he leaves. Once out, he will be branded a "convicted felon" and find it hard to regain a normal life. There will be times (many times in fact) while in prison he will wonder if the temporary enjoyment he received from his ill gotten gains was worth it. And, he will emerge a changed man.

Feel free to comment.

If you've been the victim of a mortgage fraud - fell free to share your experience.

If you've perpetrated a mortgage fraud, feel free to share your experience on the price you've had to pay.

Business Ethics Speaker - Chuck Gallagher signing off.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Not Now Senator Grassley...Not Now! Hinn Delays Response. Business Ethics Speaker Gallagher Reviews

Several months ago Senator Charles Grassley, R Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, sent questionnaires to six ministries asking numerous financial questions - probing whether the pastors and their ministries were complying with IRS rules related to their tax exempt work.

The deadline was today and it appears that Binny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine (Grapevine, TX) and Benny Hinn World Healing Center Church, Inc. have stated that they will not respond to Grassley's inquiry until next year (2008).

According to the Associated Press:

"A lawyer for preacher Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in suburban Atlanta had said Wednesday that the investigation should be referred to the IRS or the Senate panel should get a subpoena for the documents."

"Only Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo., has provided the detailed financial and board oversight information sought by Grassley."

Several questions have been raised by both sides. Many of the ministries through their spokes persons have taken the position that they comply with the law and the IRS is the watchdog. Hence, they feel that Grassley has overstepped his bounds by making such a broad request.

Again, according to the Associated Press in a report in the Dallas Morning News:

"Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in a Wednesday conference call with reporters that he "can't be impressed" by the argument from some of the preachers that the IRS already monitors them, because his past inquiries have unearthed information that the IRS never knew.

Grassley has insisted his investigation "has nothing to do with church doctrine" and is strictly concerned with making sure nonprofit groups are following the law."

Some of the ministries have suggested that Grassley get a subpoena if he plans on capturing the information he's requested. Should the ministries refuse to turn over the information, a very interesting court fight could ensue.

"Hopefully these organizations will work with us," said Grassley, who has been investigating nonprofit compliance with IRS rules for years. "I don't think I've had to issue a single subpoena in the five years that I've been trying to get cooperation from organizations."

So here are the questions and your comments are welcome:

What does not complying to Grassley's request mean to the ministries?

If one believed that they were fully compliant, would it be best to turn over the records or stand on principle (perhaps the belief that Grassley over reached)?

Since the IRS rules provide that a tax-exempt organization cannot be a conduit for excessive personal gain, is it possible to define that in a highly successful ministry?

For the record, the ministries targeted by Grassley's requests were, in addition to Hinn: Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Bishop Eddie Long Ministries of Lithonia, GA; Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries of Tampa, FL; Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, MO; Creflo Dollar of World Changers Church International in Atlanta, GA; and Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, TX.

Every choice has a consequence. In fact, in Galatians it states, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." As this unfolds the truth will be revealed...whatever that truth may be.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Which Cities Top The List For Corporate Crime? Business Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher Comments

The Corporate Crime Reporter, a print weekly legal newsletter based in Washington, D.C., released a report on November 27th, 2007 naming Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston and Newark are the corporate crime capitals of the United States.

“Every year, the FBI releases its Crime in the United States report,” said Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter. “This report is misnamed. It is actually a report on street crime in the United States. It ignores corporate crime. So, while the Crime in the United States report documents rape, robbery, murder, robbery and assault – it ignores health care fraud, bribery, environmental crimes, and other major corporate crime prosecutions.”

“We believe that America deserves to know not only where most of the street crime is – but also where most of the corporate crime is being prosecuted,” Mokhiber said.

The Corporate Crime Reporter conducted a survey of 2006 prosecutions, settlements and sentences and the results identified the top six corporate crime capitals of the US.

“These are the cities where most of the corporate crimes are being prosecuted,” Mokhiber said. “New York is an obvious hub – that’s where Wall Street is and that’s where the money is. Washington is also an obvious contender – corporations rip off the government and government prosecutors act to recover the defrauded funds.”

“Federal prosecutors in Boston have developed perhaps the premiere health care fraud prosecution team in the country – outside of Washington,” Mokhiber said. “The U.S. Attorneys’ offices in Los Angeles and Philadelphia have both developed white collar and corporate crime expertise.”

Several interesting facts arose from the study. What is most obvious is that corporate crime is centered in our largest cities and money hubs. It would be no surprise that New York, Los Angeles and Washington are there based on their sheer size and the consolidation of business and power. What I don't see is a relationship between number of cases (prosecuted or settled) and size of the location. It would be interesting to see the top areas as a percentage not just by number.

Another issue is location and interest of federal prosecutors. As stated in the report, Mokhiber acknowledges that Boston and Washington focus on health care fraud while L.A. and Philly have developed white collar expertise. Again, is crime in these cities higher or is it that the prosecution effort is more focused?

As a business ethics speaker, I know, from presentations nationwide, that issues with ethics breeches and crime don't seem to be strongly centered in one geographic region or another. I fully recognize that larger metropolitan areas have more, just by the sheer numbers, but where people are gathered, when the components for crime exist (need, opportunity and rationalization) - there will be crime.

Do you believe that crime is centered in these cities (predominately) or do you think that corporate crime is alive and well where you are. Feel free to respond with your thoughts.

Ethics In The Fast Lane - Dummy!

O.K. I admit most of my posts are serious in nature and hopefully, for those who read, have a profound meaning. I state often - Every Choice Has A Consequence!

Sometimes, however, our choices provide some fun for those delivering the consequence! Take for instance this dummy, driving down the road in Washington State in the HOV lane. I know what he was thinking...get there with less traffic...get there a bit quicker. Yep, let me take the HOV lane. Of course, to do that it requires "High Occupancy" hence the name HOV lane. Two people at least right?

Right - two people.

Well, some folks are creative in their choices. Like this man who was riding with a dummy. No, not an unintelligent person, but a real mannequin (dummy) stuffed in a sweatshirt and wearing a hat. Even the head had been painted beige to give it a more realistic appearance.

The driver was cited for an HOV violation after being reminded by the officer that the requirement to drive in the HOV lane is at least two humans inside a vehicle. Get it...two humans - "dummy!"

Oh well, every choice has a consequence. His consequence for riding with a dummy - a ticket. Hum...maybe he was the dummy?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Red Cross President Mark Everson Ousted - Business Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher Discusses

As a frequent speaker on business ethics, I state often - Every Choice Has A Consequence. Whether those choices relate to a large enterprise, like Enron, one of the nations leading charities, The Red Cross, or just your personal life, it is clear daily that my statement to audiences nationwide is true.

Every Choice Has A Consequence!

Former commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Mark Everson took on the job of running the Red Cross on May 29th 2007. The charity had been the target of much criticism following it's response to Katrina. Having had now five leaders in the past six years, the charity struggles to regain its focus and public image.

According to many news stories, on Tuesday, November 27th the board of governors for the Red Cross accepted Mr. Everson's resignation after it was reported that Everson was having a "personal relationship" with an employee of the Red Cross - one of Everson's subordinates.
Several news sources are linked here:,8599,1688266,00.html

The following comments are reported from an AP news story:

"The board acted quickly after learning that Mr. Everson engaged in a personal relationship with a subordinate employee," a statement said. "It concluded that the situation reflected poor judgment on Mr. Everson's part and diminished his ability to lead the organization in the future."

"I am resigning for personal and family reasons, and deeply regret it is impossible for me to continue a job so recently undertaken," he said. "I leave with extraordinary admiration for the American Red Cross."

Not only do choices and the consequences that follow have a direct personal impact, but they clearly impact those who are closest to you. As a man with children, his family well also be the unintended beneficiaries of Everson's actions. The pain that othes experience as a result of one's personal actions, are often the hardest to bear.

Having made choices in my past that had unexpected and unintended consequences, I understand the emotions behind the experience of the consequence. Perhaps, Mr. Everson will have time to evaluate his actions and other may come to understand that ethics in business or in one's personal life are critical if we wish to achieve positive results.