REDFORD TWP. (WWJ) - A 32-year-old Canton man is being held on a $3 million bond after being charged for his alleged involvement in an elaborate real estate fraud scheme.
Samer Salami, a real estate broker with Villa Realty in Redford Township, was arraigned on several charges Wednesday in 17th District Court, including conducting a criminal enterprise, embezzlement, false pretenses and using a computer to commit a crime. He must wear a tether if he posts bond and must not engage in any real estate transactions. He’s due back in court on Jan. 22.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy called the case a “breakthrough” in fighting real estate fraud.
“This is a breakthrough case because it is the first case in the country where there has been a state prosecution of a criminal enterprise involving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We hope this case will send a message across the nation to those who think they will profit from mortgage and deed fraud,” she said in a statement.
Worthy said Salami was involved in the alleged criminal enterprise from August 2007 until approximately April 2010.
Law enforcement officials began investigating Salami after the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) received a complaint that Salami was steering Fannie Mae toward low purchase offers from his company or associates.
Under his agreement with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Salami was required to list homes for sale and obtain the highest and best offers for them. He was also required to forward all offers to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, where the ultimate decision on whether to accept the offer would be made.
It’s alleged that Salami would list a property for sale, but not specify that the property was owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Once he had an offer for the property from a bona fide purchaser, Salami allegedly would then place an offer for the property on behalf of a company called Trademark Assets, for a price less than the offer he received from the purchaser.
Trademark Assets is a company that was legally owned by persons known to Salami. The company was, in fact, completely controlled by Salami, Worthy said.
Salami allegedly forwarded offers to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac from Trademark Assets that were much less than the asking price. Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, in turn, would accept a lower bid than they were originally asking.
Worthy said Salami then brokered the deal to sell the property from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to Trademark Assets, while simultaneously working on the documents and sale of the property from Trademark Assets to the purchaser who placed the original higher offer.
According to Worthy, Salami fraudulently profited from the difference in price between the sale of the property to Trademark Assets and the subsequent sale to the purchaser, including receiving double commission of the first sale and commission from the second sale.
“The charges allege that Salami defrauded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of tens of thousands of dollars and that he wrongfully pocketed additional thousands in real estate commissions,” Steve Linick, Inspector General, FHFA-OIG, said in a statement. “My office is committed to prosecuting individuals and entities who defraud Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to the fullest extent of the law.”