YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Bogota brother and sister who came to the U.S. from Colombia lost their life savings when a Hackensack man swiped $40,000 from them in a mortgage scam and spent it on a European getaway, authorities told CLIFFVIEW PILOT this morning.
The siblings contacted police after receiving a letter from the mortgage company denying them credit and discovering that Gerrmaiou Chape took their down payment and never forwarded their application, Police Chief John C. Burke said.
“They recently sold property in their home country and moved to the United States for a better life for their family,” Burke said. “That down payment represented their life savings.”
Falsely claiming to be the property owner, Chape “took the down payment money and moved it through an LLC he controlled in order to disguise the transfer to his personal checking account,” the chief said.
Detective Sgt. Jonathan Misskerg, assisted by Detective Victor Negron, followed the money and determined that Chape “spent all of it on personal expenses that included a multi-country European vacation last fall,” he said.
Chape, who has a petty criminal history that includes arrests for speeding, shoplifting and drugs, posted $10,000 and was released on charges of theft by deception, money laundering, forgery and various related offenses.
His mortgage loan originator’s license also was suspended by the state Division of Banking and Insurance pending an administrative hearing.
Burke warned citizens to be wary of any real estate investment.
“With the collapse of the real estate bubble, these schemes have increased,” he said. “Investments in properties that are distressed, investment pools, foreclosures and ‘short sales’ carry substantial risks.
“Like other securities, interest in real estate ventures must be registered with the N.J. Bureau of Securities,” the chief added.
MUGSHOT: Courtesy BOGOTA PD
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