Barbara Lynnae Puro, 49, has been sentenced to 60 months in prison for her participation in a multi-million mortgage fraud scheme. The release from the United States Department of Justice also states that the scheme affected lenders across the United States.
Puro, a real estate agent from Savage, pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She did not enter a plea agreement.
According to the release:
The indictment against Puro states that from January 1, 2005, through January 1, 2008, she conspired with others to obtain loan proceeds by making false representations to and withholding material information from lenders during the loan-application process.
At the time, she was employed by HomStar USA, ReMax Advantage Plus and Coldwell Banker Burnet, where she was responsible for recruiting and representing buyers and sellers of residential properties. Puro also owned TRAE, Inc., a corporation associated with her real estate endeavors.
As part of this scheme, Puro arranged for unwitting homeowners to sell their properties to straw buyers at inflated prices. In each instance, she funneled co-conspirators the difference between the amount paid to the seller and the inflated sale price.
In addition to representing those sellers, Puro often represented straw purchasers. On their behalf, she routinely produced fraudulent documentation for lenders and title companies. She also regularly caused loan proceeds to be disbursed to her co-conspirators or into accounts that she controlled. In addition to receiving concealed disbursements, Puro collected substantial real estate commissions that exceeded industry standards.
Puro and her co-conspirators convinced straw buyers to purchase approximately 22 residential properties in Minnesota, resulting in fraudulent loans in excess of $10 million and losses of approximately $5.3 million. The properties included locations in Savage and Prior Lake.
This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Minnetonka Police Department, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian S. Wilton.
Puro was sentenced Aug. 31.