Nesconset couple sentenced in Connecticut mortgage fraud

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A Nesconset man was sentenced to 4 years in prison and his wife to 3 years Tuesday for operating a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme involving more than 40 properties in Connecticut, federal authorities said.

Winston Shillingford, 56, and his wife, Marleen Shillingford, 47, of Nesconset, were sentenced in Hartford, under the authority of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut, according to an FBI news release.

In October 2011, both pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

As part of the sentence, "the parties have agreed that victim financial institutions suffered losses of between $2.5 million and $7 million as a result of this scheme," an FBI news release stated.

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According to the release, the Shillingfords were involved in the operations of a real estate company called Waikele Properties Corp., with offices in Garden City and Bridgeport, Conn.

For about 10 years, the couple along with others worked to obtain fraudulent mortgages to purchase multifamily homes in Bridgeport, authorities said.

After buying the properties, the couple would recruit people to purchase them, acting as their real estate agent and helping them through the process of applying for residential mortgage loans to buy the homes, authorities said. The Shillingfords and their co-conspirators provided false documents to go along with the loan applications, including fraudulent earning statements and bank records, according to the release.

When the loans were approved, the money would be wired into the Waikele Properties bank account and transferred to people who were part of the plot, authorities said. Many never inhabited the homes, and subsequently defaulted on the loans, authorities said.

The investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Inspector General, and the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

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