Conviction in 10-year long mortgage fraud scheme

A 50-year-old Salem, Massachusetts man who orchestrated a 10-year mortgage fraud scheme involving fraudulent loan transactions totaling $6.5 million and more than $3.8 million in losses to lenders was convicted by a federal jury in Boston, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

George Kritopoulos was convicted on Friday, May 27, of one count of conspiracy, two counts of wire fraud, six counts of bank fraud, one count of aiding the preparation of a false income tax return and one count of obstruction of justice, officials said.

Kritopoulos was charged in September 2018 along with co-defendants Joseph Bates III and David Plunkett.

From 2006 through 2015, Kritopoulos, Bates and others engaged in a scheme to defraud banks and other financial institutions by submitting false .rmation on behalf of people they had recruited to purchase properties.

“The properties were typically multi-family buildings with two-to-four units, which the co-conspirators then converted into condominiums,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “Kritopoulos recruited new borrowers to purchase the individual condominium units, which were also financed by mortgage loans obtained by fraud, according to prosecutors.”

The false .rmation submitted to lenders included the borrowers’ employment, income, assets and intent to occupy the property, however, implied that the borrowers were employed by entities that were what prosecutors call shell companies owned by Kritopoulos, which were used to advance the scheme, officials said.

The employment .rmation also included false claims about the income that the borrowers received from the entities as the borrowers received little or no income from the shell companies. The false .rmation also fraudulently claimed that the borrowers intended to live in the properties that they were purchasing, prosecutors said.

Kritopoulos brought the borrowers to Plunkett, who prosecutors said prepared tax returns that contained false and inflated income.

Of the 21 properties, all but two borrowers defaulted on their loan payments, resulting in foreclosures and losses to the lenders of more than $3.8 million, officials said.

Prosecutors said Kritopoulos attempted to interfere with the federal criminal investigation into the mortgage fraud scheme by encouraging Bates and Plunkett to make false statements and create false documents to make the shell companies appear legitimate.

“Mr. Kritopoulos held himself out to be a prominent real estate developer and believed he was above the law. This guilty verdict makes it clear that he is not,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Mr. Kritopoulos and his co-conspirators thought they could line their pockets by victimizing innocent lenders and borrowers. When the scheme began unraveling, Mr. Kritopoulos attempted to have his co-conspirators create phony documents, but they refused. In an interview, Mr. Kritopoulos lied to investigators. We are committed to holding those who engage in this type of behavior accountable.”

In October 2018, Bates pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, and two counts of bank fraud. A sentencing hearing for Bates has not yet been scheduled. In February 2019, Plunkett pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of aiding in the submission of false tax returns. He scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 15, 2022.

U.S. District Court Judge Patti B. Saris scheduled sentencing for Kritopoulos for Sept. 29, 2022.