The FBI made numerous arrests in New York City, Orange County and Monsey Thursday involving an apparent long-term mortgage and welfare fraud case.
An extended family and several business associates were indicted on federal charges Thursday in a rich man, poor man mortgage and welfare fraud scheme that authorities say netted more than $20 million.
Federal agents arrested 13 people in pre-dawn raids in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, Kiryas Joel and Monroe in Orange County, and Manhattan. Those charged include a Monsey resident who allegedly provided faulty real estate appraisals as part of the fraud. Two more people indicted are expected to surrender Thursday, authorities said.
"The defendants involved alternately played the parts of prince and pauper depending on which scam was being perpetrated," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a news conference in White Plains. "There's a lot of fraud here and shell games... The fraud was complex and they were fairly organized."
He said the investigation is continuing.
Using falsified documents and concealed identities, the group obtained $20 million in mortgages and other loans from banks and financial institutions, according to the 21-count federal indictment unsealed Thursday morning.
Bharara said some of the defendants doubled dipped, claiming to be rich while obtaining million dollar loans and mortgages and then pleading poverty – even homelessness – to get welfare payments and social services.
They used the money to pay credit card debts, mortgages, an on other real estate projects, and to enrich themselves and their families, authorities said. They also provided charity to residents of Brooklyn, Monroe and Kiryas Joel.