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Yonkers Convict's Accomplice Busted In $3.5M 'Shotgunning' Scheme, Feds Say

Saoud “Sam” Rihan was arrested Sunday.
Saoud “Sam” Rihan was arrested Sunday. Photo Credit: File photo

An accomplice of a convicted Westchester man was charged in connection with a $3.5 million "shotgunning" scheme, said federal authorities who arrested him Sunday.

Saoud “Sam” Rihan, 57, was a business partner of Yonkers resident Simon Curanaj, 63, who admitted last November that he and his associates used bogus information and simultaneous loan applications at multiple banks to fraudulently obtain home equity lines of credit -- a practice known as “shotgunning,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.

Rihan, of the Bronx, was scheduled to appear in federal court in Newark.

Among other crimes, Rihan and Curanaj executed a deed to transfer ownership of a Bronx property to people who didn't live on the property, Carpenito said. The two then applied for three HELOCs from multiple banks in the name of one of them, he said.

In 2013, Curanaj, 59-year-old Michael Arroyo of the Bronx and others transferred ownership of the property to an individual living at the property and his family friend, Carpenito said.

The conspirators then applied, in the family friend’s name, for two HELOCs from two banks using the Havermeyer Avenue property as collateral, the U.S. attorney said.

They hid from the lenders the fact that the property was either already subject to senior liens that had not yet been recorded, or that the same property was offered as collateral for a line of credit from another lender, Carpenito added.

The applications also falsely inflated the family friend’s income without his knowledge, he said.

The equity in the property was far less than the amount of the HELOC loans Curanaj, Arroyo, and others applied for, the U.S. attorney noted.

Rihan and Curanaj "hid the fact that the same Bronx property was pledged as collateral in all three applications," Carpenito said."The value of the Bronx property, which was encumbered by a mortgage, was far less than the amount of the HELOC loans that Rihan and the real estate broker applied for," the U.S. attorney said.

The victim banks eventually issued loans of more than $370,000 to one of the accomplices, who then funneled the money back to Rihan, Curanaj, and others, he said.

Curanaj and Arroyo took guilty pleas to conspiracy in federal court in Newark last fall. Both are due to be sentenced Feb. 27.

Carpenito credited special agents of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Office of Inspector General and special agents of the FBI, with the investigation.

Handling the case for the government are Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of Fitzpatrick's Criminal Division in Newark and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin DiGregory of the FHFA, Office of the Inspector General secured the pleas, he said.

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