According to a release issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Anthony J. DeMarco, III, 33, of Conshohocken, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, March 20, to conspiracy and fraud charges in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme involving more than $30 million in loans.
A 15-count indictment charged DeMarco with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering. He will be sentenced on June 27 and faces approximately 210 to 262 months in prison under sentencing guidelines.
DeMarco carried out the crimes from 2006 through July 2009, when he owned and operated DeMarco REI Inc., a Center City-based foreclosure rescue company.
Three others were charged in the conspiracy with him. Michael Richard Roberts, Sean Ryan McBride, and Eric Bascove had previously pleaded guilty.
According to the FBI, DeMarco’s business claimed to be able to assist homeowners facing imminent foreclosure. He and his employees would find homeowners in financial distress and pitch a “sale-leaseback” arrangement to them.
The pitch was this: DeMarco REI would buy the homeowner’s house, the homeowner would remain in the house and pay rent to DeMarco REI, and when the homeowner got back on his or her feet financially, the homeowner could buy back the house.
What actually happened was this: the defendants solicited straw buyers for properties, used fraudulent documents to obtain mortgage loans from lenders, stole the sellers’ equity in the homes at closing, and eventually failed to make the monthly mortgage payments.
The houses went into foreclosure with the straw buyers listed on the mortgage, the original homeowners facing eviction from their own homes, and the mortgage lenders stuck with loans in default.
The case was investigated by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Postal Inspection Service. The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Karen L. Grigsby. This civil case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Stacey L. B. Smith.