SAN JUAN, P.R – On March 29, 2017, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a one count indictment charging Tommy Rudy Habibe-Arias with making false statements in an application for a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage loan (commonly known as a “Reverse Mortgage”), announced United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The U.S. Department Housing & Urban Development- Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG) is conducting the investigation.
According to the indictment, from on or about September 2009 until on or about November 2009, defendant Tommy Rudy Habibe-Arias knowingly made or caused to be made material false statements to a mortgage lending institution named Master Mortgage Corporation, for the purpose of influencing the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to insure a Reverse Mortgage loan. Specifically, the false and fraudulent information indicated that said property was the defendant’s principal residence, when at no time since September of 2009, or at any other time, the defendant occupied the property as his “primary residence.” The defendant procured $203,605.55 from a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage loan, which he received illegally.
“Mortgage fraud is a serious issue that affects not just financial institutions but ordinary citizens who may have invested in such financial institutions or who hope to purchase, sell or refinance a home by honestly setting forth their finances,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “Mortgage lenders provide capital so people can purchase homes, not enrich themselves illegally.”
“The FHA reverse mortgage program enables elderly people to withdraw some of their home’s equity to give them greater financial security and allow them to afford to stay in their home,” said Nadine Gurley, HUD-OIG’s Special Agent-in-Charge for the Atlanta Region. “However, the public needs to be aware that to be eligible for these reverse loans, homeowners must be at least 62 years of age or older; own the property outright or have paid down a considerable amount; and must occupy the property as a principal residence. Our agency encourages anyone with information about waste, fraud or abuse against this program to confidentially report it by calling our San Juan Field Office at (787) 766-5868 or via e-mail at HOTLINE@HUDOIG.GOV(link sends e-mail) ”
If convicted, the defendant faces a possible penalty of 30 years in prison and/or a fine of $1,000,000. An indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Scott H. Anderson.