Mother and Son Charged in House-Flipping Scheme
Two Dearborn residents and one Dearborn Heights resident were charged this week with mortgage fraud by the Wayne County prosecutor's office.
Three Dearborn, Heights Residents Arrested for Mortgage Fraud
On Thursday, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy charged two Dearborn residents and one Dearborn Heights resident in connection with an alleged real estate flipping scheme that involved properties located in Detroit, Dearborn and Dearborn Heights, and small business loan fraud that took place from 2004 and continued over a period of four years.
Samer Zahr, 37, his wife, Chirine Ghandour, 29, of Dearborn and Zahr’s mother, Rajaa Zahr, 53, of Dearborn Heights were discovered through an investigation that took place under the Wayne County Deed Fraud Task Force.
It is alleged that from 2004 until 2007, Samer Zahr would buy homes and sell them to his mother, Rajaa Zahr, at an inflated price. Once she possessed the homes, it is alleged that she would provide fraudulent financial information to lending institutions to obtain a mortgage.
When Rajaa Zahr received the money for the properties, the money would be spent. She would default on the loans and the properties would go into foreclosure.
The money was used for personal and business expenses by Samer Zahr, Rajaa Zahr and Chirine Ghandour.
The trio is charged with flipping two Detroit properties, as well as one Dearborn and one Dearborn Heights property. Properties were purchased with small-business loan funds allegedly obtained for the businesses Flexible Transport and Zahr’s Real Estate Investment.
Samer Zahr has been charged with one count of conducting and one count of conspiracy to conduct criminal enterprises, as well as seven counts of false pretenses and one count of money laundering. If found guilty, his charges carry sentences of 10-20 years per count.
Rajaa Zahr has been charged with one count of conspiracy to conduct criminal enterprises, as well as four counts of false pretenses. If found guilty, her charges carry sentences of 10-20 years per count.
Ghandour has been charged with one count of false pretenses, which carries a sentence of 10 years.
Bond for Samer and Rajaa Zahr was set at $50,000/10 percent. Bond for Chirine Ghandour is $20,000 personal bond. All defendants relinquished their passports Thursday and must stay within the jurisdiction. The preliminary exam date is scheduled for July 13 at 9 a.m.
“When we began the task force, we knew that the impact of this type of crime is devastating to our economy and that we needed to do something to protect the citizens of Wayne County,” Worthy said. “Our attorneys, the Michigan State Police and federal agencies have put in many hours of work to put this case together. This is exactly what we envisioned when we created the Deed Fraud Unit in 2005.”
Robbers Caught After Brief Chase
Dearborn police caught four suspects during a robbery in progress Thursday night in east Dearborn.
Police responded to a 911 call from a restaurant in the area of Warren and Schaefer at approximately 2 a.m. Thursday. Upon arrival, officers said they discovered a robbery in progress at the business and intervened. After a brief foot chase, the four suspects were located and arrested without incident. No one was hurt.
The identities of the four suspects, who are from Indianapolis, are being withheld pending formal arraignment.