Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Jamaican in US gets three years for $multimillion fraud

Published:Thursday | January 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

A Jamaican-born man was convicted in a multimillion-dollar fraud case in the United States (US) and sentenced to three years and five months in prison.

The man, Christopher White, a real-estate broker, pleaded guilty to 10 federal charges in November: Seven counts of wire fraud and three counts of making a false statement on his US citizenship application.

US District Judge William Dimitrouleas agreed to the terms of the plea agreement White made with prosecutors. In addition to prison time, White must pay more than US$4 million in restitution and will be deported to his native Jamaica. He also surrendered his Florida real-estate licences.

Sophia Young, a Jamaican who lives in Fort Lauderdale, told The Gleaner yesterday that she was a victim of White's multimillion-dollar scheme.

"I gave him money in his escrow account and he is supposed to deposit that money and when it is time to get that money, he will take that money and deposit it in the seller's account, which he did not do," Young said.

PREY TO SMOTTH TALK

She claims to have lost US$5,000 primarily because she fell prey to what she said was White's smooth-talking and business-like approach.

"I trusted him, I believed in him because he was a citizen and I never thought anything bad of him. I kept thinking that whatever he told me was true but it turned out to be completely false," Young said.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, a major daily newspaper of Broward and South Palm Beach counties in the US, White, 44, of Fort Lauderdale, ran the high-profile Chris White Group and sold mostly upmarket properties in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties until his arrest last year.

It said he lived a flashy lifestyle, driving fancy cars and claiming he had millions of dollars in the bank and a monthly salary of $225,000 when he applied for his mortgage.

The newspaper said White admitted to pressuring clients to send him large deposits for properties they hoped to buy. Instead of depositing the money into escrow accounts, he used it to reimburse other clients, pay his personal expenses and even his criminal defence lawyer's bills.

Yesterday, Young said she was disappointed with the sentence that was handed down by the court.

"I wish they had given him more. He ripped off innocent people, not just myself, but so many others," said Young, who added that she has been let down by him.