Public Notices and Press Releases

Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to $54.7M Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy

Aron Puretz admitted to defrauding lenders over several years, leading to a $54.7 million fraudulent mortgage loan scheme.

A New Jersey man, Aron Puretz, pleaded guilty today to engaging in an extensive, multi-year conspiracy to fraudulently obtain over $54.7 million in loans and to acquire multifamily and commercial properties through fraudulent means.

According to court documents, between 2016 and 2022, Puretz, 53, conspired with others to deceive lenders into issuing multifamily and commercial mortgage loans. Working as an employee of Apex Equity Group, a real estate investment and advisory firm, Puretz and his conspirators provided lenders with falsified documents, including inflated purchase contracts, fake financial statements, and other fraudulent records.

One notable instance of the fraud occurred in February 2017, when Puretz and his associates used a conspirator's identity to present a lender and Freddie Mac with a fraudulent purchase and sale contract for Maple Lawn in Eureka, Illinois. The actual acquisition price was $4.1 million, but the documents submitted to the lender showed a price of $5.8 million. To facilitate this scheme, a title and settlement company in Lakewood, New Jersey, conducted two closings: one for the genuine $4.1 million price and another for the fraudulent $5.8 million price. Additionally, the conspirators created a nonprofit entity, JPC Charities, to gain tax-exempt status for their properties by providing false statements to the city of Eureka, Illinois.

In July 2019, Puretz and his conspirators acquired Big Country Chateau in Little Rock, Arkansas. Knowing that the lender and Freddie Mac would not approve him as an owner, Puretz used an associate's identity to hide his involvement. He concealed his ownership from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other federal and state agencies.

The fraud continued in September 2020, with the acquisition of Troy Technology Park in Troy, Michigan. Puretz and his co-conspirators presented the lender with a fraudulent contract for $70 million, significantly higher than the actual $42.7 million purchase price. They supported the inflated price with fraudulent documents, including a fake letter of intent to purchase the property for $68 million. To further conceal the fraud, they arranged a short-term $30 million loan to make it appear they had the necessary funds to close the deal. Again, a title and settlement company in Lakewood conducted two closings: one for the true $42.7 million price and another for the fraudulent $70 million price.

Puretz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 30, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The final sentence will be determined by a federal district court judge after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger for the District of New Jersey, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, Inspector General Brian M. Tomney of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General (FHFA-OIG), and Postal Inspector in Charge Eric Shen of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s (USPIS) Criminal Investigations Group.

The FHFA-OIG and USPIS are investigating the case, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Martha Nye for the District of New Jersey and Trial Attorney Siji Moore of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuting.

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