A federal grand jury has indicted a Highland couple for allegedly committing mortgage fraud by using straw buyers to get loans on high-end homes at falsely inflated prices.
Portia R. Louder, 40, faces three counts of false statements to financial institutions, three counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. Chad Louder, 41, is charged with two counts of false statements to financial institutions.
According to the indictment, the pair targeted expensive homes for purchase, especially those sold by owners and not listed on the Multiple Listing Service. Using straw buyers, they allegedly raised the purchase price of a home without the lender's learning of the actual sales price set by the owner.
The indictment focuses on three homes in Alpine, Draper and Highland.
Acting U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen said mortgage fraud is "a problem that has cost banks, borrowers and homeowners in Utah tens of millions of dollars" and that it had "contributed to the collapse of the housing market."
Prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of $3.9 million from Portia Louder and $2.45 million from Chad Louder.
The couple could not be reached for comment.
The case is being investigated by the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, the Utah Mortgage Fraud Task Force and the Utah Division of Real Estate, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The potential maximum penalty for false statements to a financial institution is up to 30 years with a potential fine of $1 million. Wire fraud carries a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison and money laundering is up to 10 years in prison. These counts have potential fines of up to $250,000.