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Fugitives arrested over multi-state mortgage fraud scheme

By Mike Wheatley | July 23, 2022

Law enforcement officials have arrested three alleged fraudsters and placed them into custody on federal charges relating to mortgage fraud, credit repair and government loan fraud.

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The Department of Justice said Heather Ann Campos, David Lewis Best Jr. and Stephen Laverne Crabtree had been evading law enforcement for several months, after some of their co-conspirators, including Steven Tetsuya Morizono, Melinda Moreno Munoz, Elvina Buckley, were arrested and indicted earlier in the year.

Should they be convicted, the three face sentences of up to 30 years in federal prison and a possible maximum fine of $1 million, the DOJ said in a statement.

Authorities said Campos and Best had been fugitives since January after being indicted for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to defraud mortgage lending businesses, banks, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Trade Commission.

Campos and Best initially agreed to self-surrender, before opting to run from the law instead. On the other hand, Crabtree was released on bond after his arrest in January, before becoming a fugitive, the DOJ said.

According to the DOJ, Campos, a mortgage broker, is alleged to have created a number of credit repair firms along with Best, operating under the names of KMD Credit, KMD Capital and Jeff Funding. They then helped to illegally ‘clean’ their client’s credit histories by filing false identity theft reports with the FTC. Buckley allegedly worked as a realtor in the scheme, while Munoz operated as a notary. The alleged conspirator’s family and friends were also invited to join the scam operation, the DOJ claimed.

It’s further alleged that the fraudsters inflated their client’s credit worthiness to obtain credit cards, disaster loans and mortgages, both for themselves and their clients. The DOJ said Campos and Best used false statements and documents to achieve their ends. It’s further alleged that Campos, Best and Crabtree used client’s names to obtain rental properties and build up a real estate portfolio worth “millions of dollars”.

They are also alleged to have obtained loans from the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and Paycheck Protection Program in the names of their clients, friends and family members, using fake or altered documents.

The DOJ did not reveal how long the alleged fraud had been going on.

Before their arrest, Campos, Best and Crabtree had allegedly sent numerous “sovereign citizen” letters to federal agencies and the federal court in Houston declaring themselves to be immune from prosecution and refusing to recognize the authority of the federal courts.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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