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Woman charged with posing as federal official in housing scam

A Chicago woman has been charged with posing as a federal housing official to scam homeowners out of money.

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

Posing as an official with the Federal Housing Authority and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Wallace called numerous Chicago-area homeowners in January, telling them that the federal government would foreclose on their homes if they did not wire money to an account she designated, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Wallace told a couple from south suburban Harvey that they qualified for a $12,000 federal grant to avoid foreclosure but that they had to first wire her $480 for a home inspection, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. She repeated the ruse with the Harvey couple, who wired her more than $3500 before calling the authorities.

Using the alias “Sherry Rice,” Wallace also targeted a 79-year-old woman from the West Side of Chicago, telling her that she was entitled to $31,200 from the federal government if she wired her $500, prosecutors said. Wallace told the woman that her home would be foreclosed if she did not comply.

The woman notified federal authorities and allowed them to record later conversations between her and Wallace, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. “We can do whatever we want to do if you’re not compliant,” Wallace was recorded saying to the woman.

Wallace was arrested Jan. 29 when she attempted to claim a fake $1,500 wire from the Harvey couple at a currency exchange on the South Side, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Her next court date has not been set, authorities said.