Justice for Victims of $64M Mortgage Fraud Scheme

A ghost town is what's left behind after one of the biggest mortgage fraud busts in Florida's history: Vacant units and homeowners foreclosed, forced to find other places to live.

Federal prosecutors said the fraud reached a whopping $64 million. But there is now some justice for the homeowners who had their properties taken and the taxpayers who had to foot much of the bill.

Three at the top of the fraud food chain have now entered guilty pleas in the case against them.

The former residents of the complex used the phrase "long time coming" on Thursday, in reference to some of the top officials at the South Florida mortgage company pleading guilty to wire fraud.

Some homeowners who lost their investment were actually celebrating when the federal prosecutors delivered the word that these people they had trusted to get a home will be heading off to federal prison.

Susan Dane was just one of the massive number of victims now feeling some sense of justice after her home was foreclosed due to no fault of her own.

Her former neighbor Judy Smith was also defrauded, "I lost my unit. I now rent here with my daughters. It's been a hardship. It's on my credit record."

62-year-old Aleida Fontao is one of the three top officers at a South Florida company known as Great Country Mortgage who the Department of Justice said has now admitted to participating in a fraud scheme totaling more than $60 million.

Now, vacant condos are left behind at a complex in Pompano Beach where Smith and Dane used to call home.

"My husband's place of business got a letter wanting to verify his income and it said he made three times what he made," Dane said.

Prosecutors said the fraud cut through 16 developments from North Broward to Kendall.

The Department of Justice said those heading to prison, "Specialized in mortgage loans that were designed to make homeownership more accessible to first time buyers and borrowers with less income and imperfect credit history."

But Smith said in doing that, they dramatically increased her real salary too, without her knowledge, "They did a computer generated pay stub showing I made triple of what I made."

NBC 6 reached out to the attorneys for those who entered these guilty pleas; one said no comment and the others did not respond.

Those victimized will spend the months ahead trying to repair their credit and the taxpayers ended up footing the bill for a lot of this.

Prosecutors said, in all, 25 workers have admitted to their roles in the fraud.

The three top officers will be sentenced in September.

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