Jana DeWitt and Kenneth Westfall, licensed real estate agents operating in Colorado Springs, paid the United States $93,500 in civil penalties to settle allegations that they engaged in deceptive conduct, violating the Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, DeWitt engaged in fraud in at least 17 bank-owned properties, by falsely listing her daughters as the buyers, in order to conceal the fact that DeWitt herself was the real party in interest, DOJ spokesman Jeff Dorschner said in a news release.
DeWitt’s employing broker, Westfall, was the listing agent for each of these transactions, Dorschner said.
“Westfall had a responsibility, and in some cases a duty based on the language of the listing contracts used in the transactions, to disclose to the sellers that the real party in interest purchasing the property was affiliated with him and his company,” Dorschner said.
“But he did not do so, despite the fact that he knew that Ms. DeWitt, his employee, was the real party in interest purchasing the properties.”
To facilitate each of these transactions, DeWitt wired money from her accounts to the closing company as the purchase funds for the transaction.
She allegedly falsified her own bank account statements to make them appear that the account was held in the name of her daughters, thus providing the seller with proof of funds for purchase, while concealing that she was the real party in interest.
For each of these transactions, Westfall knowingly failed to notify the seller that DeWitt was the real party in interest purchasing the property and that DeWitt was affiliated with him and his company.
The investigation leading to the settlement was conducted in conjunction with the FBI.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamie Mendelson handled this matter on behalf of the government.
The settlement agreement is neither an admission of liability by DeWitt or Westfall, nor a concession by the United States that its claims are not well founded, Dorschner said in the release.