11 defendants have pleaded guilty to running a brazen multi-year mortgage fraud scheme in metro Atlanta.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, the venture began more than four years ago, and resulted in the approval of more than 100 mortgages based of fabricated documents and false information. Many of the mortgages had to be paid by the Federal Housing Administration after the borrowers defaulted.

A spokesperson with the U.S. Attorney’s office said homebuyers and real estate agents worked together to submit fraudulent loan applications to mortgage lenders.

Federal prosecutors said listing agents Eric Hill and Robert Kelske represented a major nationwide homebuilder.

The scheme started when met with more than 100 unqualified homebuyers and told them what type of assets they needed to claim on their applications and what type of employment and income they would need to submit to have their applications approved.

The agents then coordinated with multiple document fabricators, including defendants Fawziyyah Connor and Stephanie Hogan, who altered the homebuyers’ bank statements to inflate their assets and created fake bank entries, reflecting false direct deposits from an employer selected by the real estate agents, according to a U.S. Attorney spokesperson.

In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s office noted, the document fabricators also generated fake earnings statements that matched the direct deposit entries to make it appear that the homebuyers were employed and earning income from a fake employer.

Once the documents were in place, other participants in the scheme then acted as employment verifiers and responded to phone calls or emails from lenders to falsely verify the homebuyers’ employment.

Federal prosecutors said Anthony Richard, a real estate agent, falsely claimed to represent homebuyers as their selling agent so that he could receive commissions from the home sales. In reality, Richard, according to a U.S. Attorney spokesman, had never even met the homebuyers he claimed to represent.

To get around the process, Richard notified closing attorneys that he was not able to attend the closing and  he then sent wire instructions for the receipt of his commissions.

After Richard received his unearned commissions, he kicked back the majority of the commissions to Hill or Kelske and then he kept a small share for his role in the scheme, a spokesman said.

The following defendants have pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States:

• Eric Hill, 50, of Tyrone, Georgia

• Robert Kelske, 52, of Smyrna, Georgia

• Fawziyyah Connor, 41, of Tyrone, Georgia

• Stephanie Hogan, 57, of Norcross, Georgia

• Jerod Little, 42, of McDonough, Georgia

• Renee Little, 33, of McDonough, Georgia

• Maurice Lawson, 36, of Powder Springs, Georgia

• Todd Taylor, 54, of Fairburn, Georgia

• Paige McDaniel, 49, of Stockbridge, Georgia

• Donald Fontenot, 52, of Locust Grove, Georgia

• Anthony Richard, 44, of Locust Grove, Georgia

A twelfth defendant, Cephus Chapman, 49, of Warner Robins, Georgia is awaiting trial.

The defendants have not been sentenced and have agreed to pay restitution to the government.

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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