Va. agent faces mortgage fraud charges

Feb. 23, 2011 at 12:19 PM
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LEESBURG, Va., Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A Virginia real estate agent who fled the United States is back to face charges in an alleged $50 million mortgage swindle.

Diane Atari of Ashburn, Va., was arraigned in Loudoun County Circuit Court Tuesday, The Washington Post reported.

She fled the country in July 2009 and was arrested in Turkey that October. After a 16-month extradition battle, she landed at Dulles International Airport Friday.

Atari is charged with 12 felonies, including providing false statements, racketeering and money laundering, and could get 280 years in prison if convicted.

Atari told Judge James Chamblin she had been unfairly singled out and 65 other people were involved in the fraud.

"It was other companies. It was not my company," she said.

Atari, who is being held without bail and is due back in court March 11, is charged with fraudulently fixing her unqualified clients' credit scores and inflating their incomes so they could get mortgages.

Authorities say she personally reaped more than $1 million in fees and commission payments. Many of the houses bought by her clients eventually went into foreclosure.

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