Feds: Woman pretended to be federal housing agent to scam homeowners

SHARE Feds: Woman pretended to be federal housing agent to scam homeowners

A Chicago woman who pretended to be a federal housing agent to scam homeowners out of thousands of dollars was captured by real federal agents who sent her a fake MoneyGram, according to federal prosecutors.

Cynthia Wallace, 45, has been charged with one count of falsely assuming and pretending to be an officer of the United States, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

In Jaunary, she posed as an official of the “Federal Housing Authority and HUD” in phone calls she made to several area homeowners warning them they might lose their homes, a federal criminal complaint alleges. Wallace would tell homeowners the government was planning foreclosure on their homes unless they wired her money.

One target was a 79-year-old woman from the West Side, according to prosecutors.

Wallace, using the name Sherry Rice, told her “she was entitled to $31,200 from the federal government, but only if the woman first wired $500 to a location determined by Wallace,” prosecutors said in a statement. “If the woman didn’t submit the money, Wallace said the government would foreclose on her home.”But the woman called federal authorities and allowed agents to record subsequent calls between she and Wallace.  In one, Wallace said, “We can do whatever we want to do if you’re not compliant,” the complaint states.  But the woman never paid any money.Wallace later went after a married couple from south suburban Harvey.Wallace used the name “Shree Box” when she told the Harvey couple they qualified for a $12,000 “HUD/FHA grant” to help stop foreclosure proceedings, but they first had to pay for an inspection costing $480, payable via MoneyGram to Wallace, the complaint states.  After the couple sent the money, Wallace told them they could qualify for a larger grant, low-interest mortgage loan and mortgage insurance if they they sent another $1,500, the complaint states. They sent the money, but then notified authorities. Wallace was arrested when she tried to pick up another $1,500 MoneyGram at a South Side currency exchange.  That was actually a ruse set up by the Feds.

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Illinois has a a good, balanced law limiting such surveillance, especially given Chicago’s long, checkered history of police spying abuse.