Mortgage fraud indictment

Two Charleston area business men were indicted Tuesday in an ongoing mortgage fraud case involving multiple properties in Myrtle Beach, Garden City and other properties in South Carolina and Georgia.

George Turner, 41, of Ladson; and Clayton Wickersham, 34, of Summerville, have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud, according to indictments filed Dec. 15.

Indictments state the scheme involved more than 70 properties representing $45 million in mortgage loans, resulting in more than $23 million in losses.

Three other co-defendants have pleaded guilty to various indictments relating to the case. They are Scott Wickersham, 36, of Summerville, Steven Weiss, 66, of Virginia and Kelly Martin, 34, of Moncks Corner.

Sentencing will be held at a later date.

The indictments were the result of a joint FBI-IRS investigation, according to a news release.

According to court documents, the suspects were partners in various organizations that mortgage firms. The indictments state they falsified information on mortgage loan applications for numerous properties throughout the state.

Most of the Myrtle Beach properties were in the city of Myrtle Beach and involved oceanfront condos. Two were on Margate Circle and at least six others were at addresses on Ocean Boulevard.

Another property was located in the 8000 block of Belle Verde Court within the Grande Dunes subdivision, and several others were located on 28th Avenue North, 34th Avenue North and 78th Avenue North.

Additional properties were located in Garden City, Murrells Inlet and North Myrtle Beach, according to the indictments.

Indictments state the defendants "sought to fraudulently induce mortgage lenders, including federally insured financial institutions, to provide money to the defendants ... in the form of mortgages."

Indictments further state the defendants would find a property to by, agree to pay the seller an amount for the property and then obtain inflated appraisals for the property.

The defendants would then recruit a buyer, usually a friend or family member and referred to as an "investor," to buy the property at the inflated price.

Investors would receive a percentage of the mortgage amount at the time of purchase and not be required to make a down payment, court records state.

Read more on this story in the Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 editions of the newspapers.


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