Filed under: News
A Silicon Valley real estate agent received a 15-year prison sentence this week for using a home-loan Ponzi scheme to scam friends and family out of more than $2 million, which she spent on luxuries such as fancy cars, expensive furniture and designer clothes, reported the San Jose Mercury News.
Jill Marie Silvey, of San Jose, Calif., was facing more than 30 years in prison after being charged with 44 felony counts across 14 fraudulent loans — as well as charges of elder abuse since some of the victims were past age 65. Her sentence includes paying restitution to her victims.
Prosecutors say the 51-year-old Silvey convinced more than 20 investors to entrust their money to her for loans to homeowners — in return for monthly interest payments paid by the homeowners. The short-term loans were supposed to be secured by the homes, however, the homeowners never received the loans and did not even know of them. All the transactions were fictitious, as Silvey forged the names of real homeowners to create fake loan documents and deeds.
Victim Michael Levine told KGO-TV in San Francisco that he took out a $120,000 home equity loan and gave the money to Silvey as a short term investment that was supposed to yield a decent interest rate, secured by real property. “She forged notaries, she forged legal documents of properties, she basically just took me for a ride,” he said. Other investors paid anywhere from $10,000 to $400,000 over the course of seven years.
Silvey, who still has an active real estate license that will expire in March 2015, according to AOL Real Estate’s review of the State of California Bureau of Real Estate records, was arrested in June 2012 at her Mediterranean-style San Jose home that she shared with her husband, Jack. The three-bedroom home on Korhummel Way (see the slideshow below) had been on the market for $849,000 in 2012. But the listing was removed about five weeks later and eventually fell into foreclosure. Then, after a bankruptcy filing, it was sold in a short sale.
News reports say that Silvey remodeled and furnished the 2,819-square-foot home with items bought, unbeknown to her husband, with money from her scheme.
“I’ve been in Jill’s house,” victim Kirk Bibb, who attended church with Silvey, was quoted as saying by the Campbell Patch. “She sold us our home. She knew I had a young family. I don’t know when she made the choice to make me a victim.” The father of first-grade twins who lost $70,000 to Silvey, added: “It was a well-thought-out plan. She didn’t get me and my wife. She got my kids.”
Deputy District Attorney Kathy Wells said in a news release: ”The real loss to the victims was the emotional pain they suffered at the hands of Ms. Silvey.”
More about real estate scams
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Real Estate Fraud: The Story of the Ponzi Scheme Widow