Title agency owner sentenced in $7M mortgage fraud scheme

Feds say she falsified paperwork and applications in 30 real estate deals in Miami-Dade County, elsewhere

Title Agency Owner Sentenced in $7M Mortgage Fraud Scheme

(Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

A former title agent who allegedly orchestrated a $6.6 million mortgage fraud scheme in South Florida was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay back the stolen funds. 

Dora Ameneiro Martinez, a previously licensed title agent and owner of Haines City-based Apex Title Agency, was involved in 30 fraudulent real estate deals in Miami-Dade County and elsewhere between 2019 and 2022, according to the U.S. State Attorney’s Office. Haines City is based in Polk County in Central Florida. 

South Florida, considered one of the fraud capitals in the U.S., is no stranger to mortgage fraud schemes and other conspiracies involving real estate

Martinez, 45, was indicted on bank and wire fraud charges in November of last year. Federal prosecutors allege she falsified title paperwork and mortgage applications on behalf of Apex, other companies she owned and homeowners for loans totaling more than $6.6 million. The lenders included one Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured financial institution. 

In the applications, Martinez concealed that some of the properties were already encumbered by existing loans, putting the new lenders in inferior lien positions to the existing lenders without their knowledge. 

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After Martinez secured the mortgages, the loan proceeds were wired to her or Apex Title and used for her personal use, according to prosecutors. The now-defunct Apex is not affiliated with the Miami-based Apex Capital Realty. 

As part of a plea agreement reached in March, the wire fraud charge was dropped. But Martinez still faced up to 30 years in prison for bank fraud. She will turn herself in for her prison sentence on June 10 and her restitution hearing is scheduled for Aug. 16. 

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The fraudulent loans were for properties in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, according to the complaint. Martinez allegedly submitted fraudulent paperwork for a $173,000 mortgage tied to the refinancing of the existing $152,000 loan for the property at 8930 Northwest 15th Court in Pembroke Pines. She also facilitated the fraudulent mortgage application for a $200,000 loan for condo unit 701 North at 9381 East Bay Harbor Drive in Bay Harbor islands, the complaint alleges. 

Title companies are responsible for verifying that the seller had the right to sell the title and that it was done legitimately. They issue title insurance policies, facilitate closings, record documents with the local municipality and disburse funds.