The United State Attorney's office in Philadelphia today filed criminal charges against the operator of a mortgage foreclosure rescue scheme involving $31 million in fraudulent loans.

Anthony J. DeMarco III, and his real estate companies, DeMarco REI Inc. in Philadelphia and OPM Group L.L.C. in King of Prussia, offered to buy the houses of people facing foreclosure, allowing the victim to stay in the house and pay rent, the government said.

In reality, the indictment alleged, DeMarco's company found straw buyers for the houses, used fraudulent documents to obtain mortgage loans from lenders, and stole the equity in the homes.

The government said DeMarco, 31, of Conshohocken, obtained $31 million of new mortgage loans on 114 properties, mostly in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The indictment alleged that DeMarco used proceeds from the fraud for personal expenses, including the purchase of a Ferrari in 2009.

Also charged were DeMarco REI employees Michael R. Roberts and Eric Boscove, as well as Sean Ryan, a title agent at Settlement Engine Inc. in Pittsburgh.

Contact staff writer Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or hbrubaker@phillynews.com.