Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Man pleads guilty to real estate flipping scheme

Total loss to lenders exceeds $700,000

Pantelis Karsos, 45 of Towson, Md., on Friday pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his role in a mortgage-flipping scheme, according to a U.S. Attorney's office in the District of Maryland.
Karsos, the owner of Nations Mortgage in Towson, admitted to brokering loans for investors in a mortgage fraud scheme involving "flipped" properties in Baltimore City. He pleaded guilty to mail fraud, and will be sentenced on March 25.

Flipping occurs when a property is repeatedly bought and sold by the same party in an attempt to boost its value. However, that value often outstrips the property's appraised worth after several sales, with subsequent buyers paying an inflated price as the result.

According to facts presented to the court, Karsos incorporated a company called "Knoll Housing" and recruited investors. From approximately April 1998 to December 1999, Knoll Housing purchased properties in Baltimore City for a low price and then "flipped" the properties to an investor/borrower for an inflated price.

One of Karsos' co-conspirators, Anthony J. DiChiara , 41, of Westminster, Md., who was a licensed appraiser in Maryland, provided inflated appraisals and Karsos, as Nations Mortgage, brokered the mortgage without disclosing to the lender the inflated value of the house, or that "Knoll Housing" was owned by Karsos.

Settlements were handled by attorney Nicholas Pisotlas and Barbara Prichard and their title company, All County Title. Losses to lenders through the Knoll Housing scheme exceed $700,000.


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