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Escrow Accounts

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BUSINESS
By Edward Gunts | February 24, 1991
Maryland's Department of Licensing and Regulation has conducted unannounced "blitz audits" of 200 to 300 licensed real estate brokers in Maryland over the past two weeks to make sure no one is dipping into escrow accounts set up for homebuyers.Harry Loleas, deputy commissioner of the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, and George Rayburn, assistant commissioner of consumer credit, said the spot audits were ordered by Licensing and Regulation Secretary William A. Fogle Jr. to make sure brokers aren't taking funds intended for home purchases and using them to cover operating expenses for their office or pay off personal debts.
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BUSINESS
By Steve Kilar and The Baltimore Sun | November 2, 2012
An Ellicott City title agent was sentenced Friday to two years in prison for stealing $684,000 from escrow accounts that were intended to pay off mortgage lenders, according to prosecutors. After being released from prison Sandy P. Kim, 43, will face three years of supervised release, according to a statement from Maryland's U.S. Attorney's Office. Under the sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander, Kim will also have to forfeit the money she stole. Beginning in 2006, Kim took money from escrow accounts maintained by her company, EK Settlements, according to her plea agreement.
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BUSINESS
By Ken Harney and Ken Harney,Earthlink | March 30, 2007
As financial regulators and Congress probe more deeply into the delinquencies and foreclosures roiling the subprime home loan market, one key contributing factor is receiving increased attention: the lack of mandatory escrow accounts. According to some industry estimates, a majority of subprime mortgages closed during the housing boom years carried no escrows for property taxes and hazard insurance. That is in stark contrast to the prime mortgage market for consumers with good credit, where mandatory escrow accounts are routine.
BUSINESS
By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun | September 14, 2012
An Ellicott City woman pleaded guilty to wire fraud Wednesday for misusing more than $1.5 million in mortgage closing funds, federal prosecutors announced. Harriet M. Taylor, 56, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine for comingling mortgage lenders' money that should have been in escrow accounts with the operating accounts of two Columbia title insurance companies, according to a statement from Maryland's U.S. Attorney's Office. Taylor co-owned and managed the companies, Regal Title Co. LLC and Loyalty Title Co. LLC, the statement said.
NEWS
By Walter F. Roche Jr. and Walter F. Roche Jr.,SUN STAFF | April 11, 2001
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Two defendants accused of visa fraud were torpedoed by their own witness yesterday when he testified that he was shocked to learn that they had tapped client funds that were supposed to be kept in special accounts. "I blew my top," said Dale M. Schwartz, an Atlanta immigration lawyer, when asked what he did when he learned that clients' escrow accounts had been raided. He said he told a staff lawyer at the Interbank Group, a Herndon, Va., company run by defendants James F. O'Connor and James A. Geisler, that "she ought to quit and get out of there."
NEWS
By Howard County Bureau of The Sun | January 17, 1991
A former office manager of two Howard County real estate firms was charged yesterday with 32 counts of theft and four counts of forgery in the alleged embezzlement of $161,301 from escrow accounts, police said.Josephine F. Davis, 45, of the 17,000 block of Frederick Road, Mount Airy, was released on her own recognizance. She had been employed with Howard Realty and Marsho Realty, trading as Re/Max Realty, according to District Court records. According to court records, Ms. Davis left a letter for her employer admitting to stealing the money from the office's escrow accounts between September 1987 and June 1990.
NEWS
By Mark Guidera and Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer | December 18, 1994
An article in the Dec. 18 Sunday Sun about title insurance agents reported incorrectly that William Hackney, a former lawyer in Glen Burnie, was convicted of stealing client money from an escrow account. In fact, earlier this year, in a civil proceeding in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, Mr. Hackney signed a confessed judgment in which he acknowledged responsibility for $450,000 found missing from his title company's escrow account.The Sun regrets the errors.Joseph E. Goldberg Sr. raced off in his Ford Explorer Oct. 14 and hasn't been seen since.
BUSINESS
By New York Times News Service | January 28, 1992
General Motors Acceptance Corp., one of the country's largest mortgage lenders, settled a federal lawsuit yesterday by agreeing to refund tens of millions of dollars to hundreds of thousands of homeowners who officials said had been forced to pay excessive amounts into escrow accounts.The attorneys general of 12 states, including New York and California, called the settlement with GM's mortgage unit a significant victory against abuse in mortgage lending and expressed hope that it would result in reforms.
BUSINESS
By Steve Kilar and The Baltimore Sun | November 2, 2012
An Ellicott City title agent was sentenced Friday to two years in prison for stealing $684,000 from escrow accounts that were intended to pay off mortgage lenders, according to prosecutors. After being released from prison Sandy P. Kim, 43, will face three years of supervised release, according to a statement from Maryland's U.S. Attorney's Office. Under the sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander, Kim will also have to forfeit the money she stole. Beginning in 2006, Kim took money from escrow accounts maintained by her company, EK Settlements, according to her plea agreement.
BUSINESS
By David Conn and David Conn,Staff Writer | February 9, 1993
Fleet Mortgage Group Inc., one of the nation's largest mortgage lenders, agreed to pay $150 million in refunds yesterday to homeowners allegedly overcharged on their mortgage escrow accounts, including about $3.5 million to Marylanders.The company, based in Columbia, S.C., also said it would change the way escrow accounts were calculated by two of its subsidiaries, Fleet Mortgage Corp. in Milwaukee and Fleet Real Estate Funding Corp. in Columbia, S.C.The agreement followed a one-year investigation into Fleet's practices by the attorneys general of 26 states, including Maryland.
NEWS
By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun | October 12, 2011
A Charles County woman pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to mail fraud that was part of a plan to defraud lenders and a title insurance company of $1.7 million. Brenda Lukenich, 60, of Hughesville was an escrow accountant for title companies that operated in Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington, D.C., according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland. Roughly five years ago, Lukenich altered escrow account statements prior to audits - required by the title insurer - to show that accounts were balanced even though they actually were short about $3 million, the statement said.
NEWS
November 10, 2009
A Baltimore grand jury has indicted a 67-year-old Reisterstown man on 24 charges alleging he stole more than $7 million from various escrow accounts, the city State's Attorney's Office announced Monday. George Sybert Sr. of the first block of Briarwood Farm Court owned Maryland Title Co., based in Baltimore. The indictment claims he took money from individual accounts his company held. Sybert is scheduled to be arraigned in December. A message left at Sybert's home was not returned Monday.
BUSINESS
By JAMIE SMITH HOPKINS and JAMIE SMITH HOPKINS,jamie.smith.hopkins@baltsun.com | October 12, 2008
Homeowners are accustomed to mortgage payments that include taxes and insurance. Every month you pay 1/12 of the annual tab (give or take), and the lender socks it away into an escrow account for when the bills come due. But a lot of the subprime loans made during the pre-credit-crunch frenzy didn't come with escrow accounts. There's nothing like being hit with an unexpected tax bill to ruin your day - or wreck your budget. Many of the people streaming into St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center in Baltimore for help avoiding foreclosure don't have escrow accounts and didn't realize it when they got the loan.
BUSINESS
By Hanah Cho and Hanah Cho,Sun reporter | May 30, 2008
A real estate title company in Severna Park and Ocean City was shut down after as much as $2 million from its escrow account for property settlements allegedly turned up missing, according to court documents and state regulators. Maryland Insurance Commissioner Ralph S. Tyler ordered yesterday that business licenses for Day Title Inc. and owner Deborah A. Williams be suspended and revoked. The Maryland Insurance Administration issues licenses and regulates title companies, which conduct real estate closings.
BUSINESS
By Ken Harney and Ken Harney,Earthlink | March 30, 2007
As financial regulators and Congress probe more deeply into the delinquencies and foreclosures roiling the subprime home loan market, one key contributing factor is receiving increased attention: the lack of mandatory escrow accounts. According to some industry estimates, a majority of subprime mortgages closed during the housing boom years carried no escrows for property taxes and hazard insurance. That is in stark contrast to the prime mortgage market for consumers with good credit, where mandatory escrow accounts are routine.
BUSINESS
By KENNETH HARNEY | January 18, 2004
ACROSS THE country this month, millions of homeowners are receiving a document from their mortgage company that they might find confusing or nettlesome: the annual escrow account disclosure statement. The very idea of an escrow account gets under the skin of some homeowners. After all, escrows mean that you pay more - often hundreds of dollars per month more - than the principal and interest you owe the lender. You're required to pay prorated amounts for hazard insurance premiums, property taxes, private mortgage or FHA insurance, condo fees and other expense items due at times during the year.
NEWS
November 10, 2009
A Baltimore grand jury has indicted a 67-year-old Reisterstown man on 24 charges alleging he stole more than $7 million from various escrow accounts, the city State's Attorney's Office announced Monday. George Sybert Sr. of the first block of Briarwood Farm Court owned Maryland Title Co., based in Baltimore. The indictment claims he took money from individual accounts his company held. Sybert is scheduled to be arraigned in December. A message left at Sybert's home was not returned Monday.
BUSINESS
By David Conn and David Conn,Annapolis Bureau | March 19, 1992
ANNAPOLIS -- Title companies again narrowly avoided yesterday being forced to give up the interest they earn on their clients' escrow accounts.By a 12-10 vote, the House Ways and Means Committee agreed not to use title company interest as the source of funding for the proposed Maryland Affordable Housing Trust, a fund that would help pay for affordable housing in Maryland.For years, title companies have fought a turf battle with law firms over the interest earned on client escrow accounts.
BUSINESS
By Jonathan A. Azrael | March 23, 2003
When shopping for a mortgage to purchase or refinance your home, here are some tips: If you know you're going to sell the house within the next seven years, consider alternatives to the usual 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) are available at lower rates than fixed-rate loans. Lowest rates apply to mortgages that adjust every year. Progressively higher rates are charged for ARMs with rates that are locked in for three years, five years or seven years. After the lock-in period, the ARM interest rate adjusts at that time to the then-current index rate, plus a predetermined margin (i.e.
BUSINESS
By KENNETH HARNEY | May 19, 2002
Home sellers and those refinancing homes who pay off their mortgages frequently wait for weeks or months before receiving the funds sitting in their own escrow accounts. The balances in those escrows can amount to thousands of dollars -- all intended for property taxes, insurance and other annual or semiannual expense items. But mortgage servicers are free to retain and profit from that money long after the underlying loan has been paid off. Why? Because of a glaring loophole in federal law. While Congress has prescribed detailed rules on how much a mortgage company can require a borrower to contribute to an escrow account, there are no provisions in the law about returns of escrowed funds.
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