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SE boro hit in alleged title scam

In one suit, a civil complaint alleges that a Long Island man operating a series of home building and funding companies in South Ozone Park conspired with others to steal in excess of $3.5 million that had been placed in escrow to pay off taxes, mortgages and refinancing costs in homes in neighborhoods such as Richmond Hill, Jamaica and Ozone Park.Ticor Title Insurance Co. of Florida, which brought the suit, alleges that Irshad Ramzan, of Nassau County, who is a principal of the Platinum companies, located at 135-30 Rockaway Blvd., conspired with Eric Koppelman, the director of operations of Manhattan-based Aegis America, LLC to take the money from a total of at least 47 homes mostly in Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island.Aegis was a title policy issuing agent for Ticor and sought potential customers for the giant insurer, the complaint said. Aegis is now insolvent, said Mark Korn, a former principal. Korn brought the fraud to light in October after a review of his records, he said. Koppelman and Ramzan could not be immediately reached for comment. A second suit, brought by attorney Anthony LoPresti, of Garden City, L.I., last Thursday on behalf of the homeowners, is charging Ticor and Aegis with fraud, not just the principals of the companies as the first lawsuit alleges. Jennifer Cotroneo, an attorney with LoPresti, explained that in the home sale version of the scheme, the buyer's mortgage bank wrote a check to Aegis America, LLC. She called that unusual for a bank to write a check to an intermediary. Koppelman and Ramzan allegedly absconded with the money instead of forwarding it on to the seller's bank, the Ticor complaint alleges. However, that check written out to Aegis not only included the money to pay off the seller's mortgage, but also included the recording fees and transfer taxes. Because the fees were never paid, the deeds were never properly recorded. An attorney for Ticor said the company was attempting to correct the city records to avoid additional fraud opportunities.Cotroneo said the alleged scheme was similar in the refinancing cases. Here the homeowner's new mortgage lender paid checks to Aegis instead of paying off the prior mortgage lender. Instead of sending the check to the old bank, Koppelman and Ramzan allegedly absconded with the money that often totaled in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in each home transaction, Cotroneo said. With the refinancing, there was no risk to the title, only to the loan. Essentially, the homeowner would still owe both mortgages because the original mortgage was never paid off.Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229--0300, Ext. 154.

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