Md. Man Faces Fraud Charge Over Mortgage Claim

Thursday, 18 Aug 2011 09:42 AM

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A Maryland man faces a mail fraud charge for allegedly paying off his $353,000 mortgage debt with a money order he claimed had the backing of former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, according to Fox News.


Bryan Gardner, 35, of Waldorf, Md., forged a $353,000 money order and sent it to CitiMortgage in January 2009 as the final payment for a property in Bowie, Md. The order stated it was “drawn on the account of ‘Secretary of the Treasury Henry M. Paulson, Jr.” Gardner even signed the document as Paulson’s “authorized representative.”


According to a Secret Service affidavit, “CitiMortgage erroneously accepted the document and credited Gardner’s mortgage account in full.”

Gardner then sold the property for $254,900.

“I’ve never heard of a case where a mortgage for such a large amount was satisfied with a fraudulent instrument — an instrument that’s so on-its-face fraudulent, said Paul Pelletier, former top-ranking official in the Justice Department’s Fraud Section. “You’d be amazed how many people try and pass off [fraudulent] stuff. But does it ever work? No, it rarely works.”


Pelletier says the incident is particularly unusual because it required that CitiMortgage not only honor a fraudulent money order but also issue a “satisfaction” on the mortgage, thereby allowing Gardner to sell the property.


Gardner has been charged with one count of mail fraud. A grand jury is studying the matter.


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