Two Long Islanders bilked financially strapped home buyers out of $800,000 by promising private financing if they sent down payments or deposits in advance, according to an indictment unsealed in federal court Wednesday.
Instead, Keith Anthony, 46, president and owner of the now-shuttered CIG Realty, diverted $500,000 of clients' money to his personal account and to another business he controlled, while his employee, Anthony Podias, 39, convinced people to deposit as much as $15,000, said the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan and the FBI.
Each was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Anthony, of Elmont, was being sought yesterday, and Podias, of Levittown, was arrested yesterday and awaited arraignment last night, authorities said.
The pair targeted those who could not get traditional mortgages because of poor credit, scamming more than 100 people nationwide between November 2011 and March 2013, the indictment said.
CIG Realty offered to find private investors willing to give out home loans with a 10 percent interest rate, federal officials said. Home buyers were supposed to repay the investors until they could clean up their credit enough to get traditional mortgages.
But CIG Realty never followed through on any purchases, authorities said. When clients demanded their money back, Anthony refunded only about $44,000 out of $875,000 in wire transfers, court papers said. In many cases, he and other employees stopped returning victims' calls, authorities said.
Podias' attorney, a federal defender, could not be immediately reached Wednesday night.
Anthony also could not be reached.