Couple arrested in $47 million mortgage-fraud case

March 30, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Federal authorities arrested an Issaquah real estate agent and his wife last week in a bank, wire and mail fraud scheme that investigators said defrauded banks and mortgage lenders of more than $47 million.

Authorities arrested five others March 26, following a wide-ranging investigation into the largest mortgage-fraud case in state history.

Issaquah real estate agent David Sobol, 40, was charged in a 40-count indictment with several counts of bank, mail and wire fraud. David Sobol is listed in the indictment as the manager of a Bellevue escrow company used in a complex scheme to bilk lenders. His wife, Alla Sobol, 28, was described as an owner of a lending company accused of falsifying loan applications.

U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sullivan announced the arrests at a March 26 news conference. Later the same day, the Sobols pleaded not guilty to the charges, which are punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida ordered the Sobols to be detained pending further hearings.

Alla Sobol was listed as a Renton resident in the indictment. Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, said the Sobols might be separated.

The indictment claims the Sobols and others falsified tax records and used “straw buyers” — unqualified buyers with falsified loan applications — to purchase homes on the Eastside and throughout the region. Authorities said the defendants pulled in $9 million, which was used to purchase a boat and luxury vehicles. Officials are seeking the forfeiture of a 2008 Range Rover and a 2007 Lexus registered to the Sobols, as well as an unspecified amount of cash.

Authorities said the defendants were involved with three Bellevue companies: Emerald City Escrow, Nationwide Home Lending and Kobay Financial Corporation. David Sobol was the manager of Emerald City; Alla Sobol was an owner of Nationwide, according to the indictment.

Nationwide and Kobay employees prepared and submitted falsified loan applications and verification documents to lenders. Authorities said the employees concealed information about buyers who were unqualified for loans. Lenders extended loans based on the falsified documents. Authorities said the loans exceeded the value of the property and the ability of borrowers to repay.

Emerald City employees then disbursed excess loan proceeds from the escrow accounts to themselves and their associates.

Investigators reviewed 78 loan files submitted by Nationwide and Kobay to lending institutions; 69 of those files contained fraudulent information, according to the affidavit.

As part of the investigation, FBI agents posed as potential buyers to conduct surveillance at the Sobols’ Cougar Mountain home.

U.S. Postal Inspection Service and IRS investigators are also working on the case.

David Sobol and others purchased houses and “flipped” the properties to obtain money from lenders. David Sobol purchased a Newcastle house for $669,950 in August 2007, according to the indictment. A month later, he sold the property to co-defendant Camie Byron, 28, a loan officer for Kobay and Nationwide.

Byron used falsified loan applications to obtain two loans worth about $900,000 for the property. In November 2007, she sold the property to a straw buyer for $1.4 million.

A loan application submitted by the straw buyer inflated his or her income to meet the lending requirements. The application said the buyer earned more than $324,000 in 2005 and $385,000 in 2006. But the buyer reported income to the IRS of $13,245 in 2005 and $16,600 the following year.

Authorities also arrested Viktor Kobzar, 32, a mortgage broker and an owner of Nationwide and Kobay; Vladislav Baydovskiy, 31, a mortgage broker and an owner of Nationwide and Kobay; and his wife, Donata Baydovskiy, 28, an owner of Emerald City.

Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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