SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A 33-year-old real estate agent pled guilty in federal court Friday for his part in a $45 million mortgage fraud conspiracy and tax crimes.
Scott M. Wickersham, a Summerville resident, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail, wire, and bank fraud, and two counts of willfully making and subscribing a false tax return.
According to court documents, Wickersham and others operated a mortgage fraud scheme using real estate and businesses between April 2006 and at least November 2007. The scheme allowed the group to obtain more than $45 million in loan funds.
United State Attorney Bill Nettles says the group operated under the names North American Mortgage Group, LLC, New Freedom Enterprises, LLC, and Realty Executives of Coastal Carolina.
Nettles says Wickersham had "investors", or straw purchasers, purchase more than 70 properties at inflated appraised prices, and provided false information to mortgage lenders to help approve the purchases.
The real estate company received large commissions or signing bonuses from the sellers, which ended up being the mortgage lenders. Nettles says the bulk of the sales commissions ended up in bank accounts controlled by Wickersham.
That money would then be used to continue funding the ongoing criminal conspiracy, Nettles says.
Court documents state Wickersham backed out of the scheme around August 2007 after running out of money to continue funding the investors' mortgages, leaving the investors with overvalued properties they could not afford. Mortgage lenders reportedly suffered losses of more than $20 million.