A Tarrant County grand jury indicted five people, including a home builder, for allegedly engaging in mortgage fraud involving loans worth $13 million. Chekeelah Phelps, 45, of Mansfield; Clayton Bennett, 66, of DeSoto; Munzer Kawasmi, 30, of Arlington; Deborah Fernie, 48, of Keller; and Kelvin Kidd, 50, of Mansfield are all charged with hatching an elaborate scheme that mostly involved falsified loan documents originating in the subprime mortgage market.
The case stems from an anonymous letter that the Tarrant County district attorney's office received months ago, asking authorities to look into why so many houses in Mansfield's Twin Creeks subdivision were foreclosed on, vacant or for sale.
Chekeelah Phelps, a mortgage broker is accused of being the head of the fraudulent scheme and it's not her first time being entangled with the wrong side of the law.
Phelps was indicted on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity in December 2004, accused of working with Bennett and three others to make false statements to obtain loans for property over $200,000.
Phelps was also indicted on three charges of money laundering related to possessing funds that were proceeds of criminal activity, namely making false statements to obtain property or credit valued at $20,000 to $100,000.
The mortgage scam allegedly involved a stray man, falsified loan documents and inflated loans. Prosecutors warn that more of these mortgage scams may be uncovered in the coming months. Why is this not surprising? While this alleged mortgage scam is blatant, in many ways other not so blatant scams have been played on the American homeowner. This is why we have such an outrageous foreclosure rate. Homeowners all over this country were placed in toxic mortgages. And while these toxic mortgages are not outright illegal, they would probably be considered unethical by any decent person's standards.