Published: Oct 25, 2012 11:30 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 26, 2012 10:50 AM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Attorney General Pam Bondi and the Miami-Dade Police Department today charged seven people for their alleged involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme totaling nearly $5 million. The individuals allegedly defrauded lenders by using straw buyers, filing false liens with county officials, laundering money, and inflating prices quoted to lenders.

"By working with the Miami-Dade Police Department, we have stopped this mortgage fraud scheme," stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. "We will continue our efforts to stop mortgage fraud and hold criminals accountable."

Chief Juan Santana of the Miami-Dade Police Department stated "The Miami-Dade Police Department's Real Estate Fraud Section continues its vigilance and long-term commitment against those individuals who sought to compromise the integrity of the banking and mortgage industry."

Below is the list of defendants and their charges. Each of the counts charged is a first degree felony and is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and up to $10,000 fine.

· Lazaro Santiago Cajuso, 48; Hialeah Gardens; RICO, organized fraud, three counts of grand theft
· Juan Pablo Maya, 48, Orlando; grand theft
· Ivon Marrero,40, Hialeah; grand theft
· Jose-Ricardo Jesus Armas, 35, Miami; RICO, organized fraud, three counts of grand theft
· Jesus Alberto Gregorio, 52; Hialeah, grand theft
· Roberto Ramos, Miami, 73; grand theft first degree, organized fraud
· Remberto Lago, 41, Hialeah, 41; grand theft

This scheme operated with straw buyers who used their names and credit to purchase numerous properties. Once the loan had been secured and records reflected a price well over the actual price paid to the seller, a variety of financial exchanges would take place to make the purchase appear legitimate.  The laundered money would then go back to the closing agent's escrow account and be characterized in the records as the cash brought to the closing by the straw buyer.