Las Vegas, NV – Investigators from the office of Secretary of State Ross Miller today announced the arrest of Matthew Marlon of Las Vegas on 32 felony charges related to the fraudulent purchase of Las Vegas area homes. Secretary of State’s officers served Marlon with an arrest warrant when he arrived at the home of two of his victims who were cooperating with investigators. Immediately following the arrest Marlon was placed in the custody of the Clark County Detention Center, and is currently scheduled for arraignment Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 7:30 a.m.
“We’re concerned that these initial charges represent just the tip of the iceberg,” said Secretary of State Miller. “There are potentially many more victims of this type of scam out there, and we intend to aggressively investigate those cases. We’re also going to aggressively pursue anyone who makes fraudulent corporate filings in Nevada.”
Marlon is currently facing charges that include 32 counts of offering a false document for filing or recording; two counts of theft of property by false pretenses; two counts of obtaining property by false pretenses from victims over the age of 60; and, five counts of forgery. According to Secretary of State officials, Marlon targeted homeowners who were anxious or desperate to sell their homes. Using an alias, Marlon would tell a homeowner that he would assume the responsibility of their mortgage in exchange for the deed to the home and, in some cases, a small amount of cash, sometimes as little as $200.00. After taking physical possession of the home, Marlon would then rent the home to new tenants, collecting rent, but never paying the mortgage as he had promised the original homeowner. Homeowners would then find out after a few months had passed, that no payments had been made on the loan, which was still in their name.
“We believe Mr. Marlon used a series of fraudulently filed corporations as part of these transactions, and made promises to his victims that were not made in the documents he presented for the victims to sign,” said Miller. “He also told his victims that a real estate agent could not be involved in the transaction, and that he would take care of all the paperwork. To the unsuspecting victims, it was an opportunity to avoid looming foreclosure and a ruined credit rating.”
Secretary of State officers are continuing their investigation, and working directly with the office of Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.
Homeowners should be aware that if they sell their home but do not make sure that the mortgage is paid off as part of the sales transaction, they will still be obligated to pay the lender and the property will go into foreclosure. Using a reputable title company should assure that the mortgage is paid off by the buyer before title to your home is transferred. Most mortgages cannot be “transferred” to a new person without the lender’s written permission.
Some of the warning signs of potentially questionable or fraudulent mortgage deals are:
* You are asked to sign a deed or other papers, and the seller promises to pay off your mortgage, but no escrow is opened;
* You are told that a real estate agent or title company “doesn’t need to be involved;”
* You are told that the buyer will “take over the payments;”
* The buyer tells you he will buy your house for the sum of the mortgages owing and an additional amount of money which he will pay in cash.
If you believe you have been the victim of mortgage fraud, please contact the Secretary of State’s office at (702) 486-2440, or (775) 688-1855.