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2 houses sold twice on same day in poor neighborhood: feds

Updated: December 30, 2013 11:51AM

It was the peak of the recession — just weeks after the subprime mortgage crisis hit in late 2008 — yet a pair of overpriced homes in two of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods each sold twice within a single day.

If it smelled funny, that’s because it was, feds say.

The buyers for the homes in the high-crime Back of the Yards and West Englewood communities, either didn’t know their stolen identities were being used to secure mortgages, or were straw purchasers who had no intention of living in them or paying the mortgages, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.

And the suit-clad white collar criminals behind the scam — including a disbarred attorney and a suburban husband and wife who owned a title company — got away with far more than any pants-sagging street corner hustler could hope for, it’s alleged.

Between them, former attorney Harvey Wright, 46, and Precious House, 47, both of Chicago; Worldwide Title Service owners David Guel, 60, and his wife, Mary Gleason, 48, both of Blue Island; Monty Saiyed, 37, of Bartlett; Saged Ansari, 32, of Hanover Park, and Azeem Syed, 30, of Bolingbrook; conned lenders out of mortgages worth $800,000 for the two homes on the 4800 Block of South Racine and the 6700 block of South Marshfield, it’s alleged.

The alleged scam involved falsifying documents to overstate the homes’ values and the buyers’ incomes, then using a “double closing” at which each home was immediately resold to a sham buyer at an inflated price.

All seven defendants — including Wright, who was disbarred in 2011 for cashing a client’s settlement check for himself — pleaded not guilty during brief court appearances earlier this week.

Their indictments are similar to a case in which Evanston attorney Karim Dure, 39, was charged last month. Dure’s law license was suspended earlier this year, records show.

In all, more than 50 mortgage fraudsters have been convicted since 2009 as part of Operation Mad House, an undercover investigation focussing on Chicago’s real estate industry.


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