A Chicago man who allegedly scammed more than 100 elderly homeowners on the city’s West Side out of more than $10 million in equity has been hit with federal fraud charges, authorities say.
Mark Diamond, 60, armed himself with gadgets that disguised his voice and his phone number as he targeted homeowners at least 62 years old who qualified for a reverse mortgage loan, according to a 72-page affidavit written by a special agent for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General.
Diamond allegedly lied and smooth-talked his victims into signing up for reverse mortgage loans he would find ways to benefit from, such as by putting liens on their properties for shoddy or imaginary repairs he claimed to have made. His oldest alleged victim was 98.
FBI and HUD agents arrested Diamond Monday in Chicago for the scheme to defraud. He is in federal custody following a court appearance Tuesday morning.
The alleged scheme reached back to 2009, according to the HUD affidavit. The feds said they interviewed Diamond’s victims and their family members, recorded Diamond’s conversations, attended meetings with his accomplices while undercover and searched Diamond’s office in the 2300 block of North Damen.
The feds say Diamond would target an elderly homeowner and promise to make home repairs based on the equity that he calculated would be available through a reverse mortgage loan. He offered the loans and allegedly conned the homeowners into agreeing to apply for them, sometimes unwittingly and sometimes by lying about the terms.
In some cases, Diamond falsely claimed to have valid liens on properties and was paid loan proceeds directly, the HUD agent alleged. In others, Diamond persuaded elderly homeowners to sign the loan check and give it to him.
Diamond and his company, OSI Financial Services Inc., entered into a consent decree in 2003 that enjoined him and the company from conducting any loan closing. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation also suspended Diamond’s loan originator registration for four years starting April 27, 2010. Diamond’s scheme allegedly violated both orders.