Three South Jersey residents are among nearly a dozen people charged in an elaborate, $15 million mortgage scam that led to the attempted murder of one of those involved, federal authorities said Thursday.
Eleven people from five states have been charged, including a Philadelphia man, according to an indictment released by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark.
"These defendants created false documents and used straw buyers to convince lenders to give them $15 million for properties that were worth far less," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement.
"Members of the scheme were willing to launder money - and even to kill - in order to get their hands on the profits and cover their tracks."
Authorities said the individuals used false documents so that the "straw" buyers qualified for loans for distressed properties - including condominiums in Wildwood and Wildwood Crest - at inflated prices.
The buyers had good credit scores, but not the financial resources to buy the properties. When federal authorities served a subpoena on a mortgage brokerage firm involved, Kinard J. Henson, 40, of Ventress, Ala., allegedly attempted to have one of the witnesses killed, according to the indictment.
The witness was lured into a wooded area in Alabama and shot in the chest but survived.
Among those charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud are: Sean A. Souels, 42, of Philadelphia; Nancy E. Wolf-Fels, 55, of Toms River, N.J.; Deborah L. Hanson, 49, of Voorhees; Seth A. Fuscellaro, 39, of Wildwood Crest; and Henson, who is also charged with attempted murder.
Authorities alleged that Souels and Henson recruited buyers willing to submit false documents to qualify for loans. Mortgage brokers Wolf-Fels and Hanson were aware the documents were false, and Fuscellaro created bogus sales agreements that concealed the true values of properties, authorities alleged.