A federal grand jury indicted two Maryland residents, one of whom is in the country under asylum, on a dozen counts of wire fraud and identity theft this month in connection with a 2008 scheme that used Baltimore properties to swindle a Beltsville lender out of more than $664,000, authorities say.

Cameroon native Dema Daiga, who lives in College Park, and Oluseun Oshosanya, who lives in Laurel, appeared separately Monday in U.S. District Court. Bond was set at $2 million for Daiga, who came to the country under asylum and is charged with committing the bulk of the scheme. A detention hearing was scheduled for Wednesday for Oshosanya, who is charged with six of the 12 counts his co-defendant faces.

Neither man has yet been arraigned on the charges.

They're among more than 50 people criminally charged in Maryland this year with mortgage fraud offenses, according to U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein, who helped form the state's Mortgage Fraud Task Force in February. The partnership among state, local and federal authorities focuses on fighting the fraud that ballooned during the past few years as the housing and real estate markets went into meltdown.

Maryland leaped to fifth place in the nation - from 15th - for reported fraud incidents last year, according to the Mortgage Asset Research Institute. The institute's research, based on data submitted by mortgage lenders, bankers and insurers, shows that most of Maryland's mortgage fraud episodes deal with falsifying loan application information, which Daiga and Oshosanya are charged with.

According to the indictment against them - returned Dec. 2 and unsealed after their arrests Dec. 23 - the defendants recruited unqualified "straw" buyers to apply for mortgages from Landmark Funding LLC in Beltsville, using false information about their assets and earnings.

They kept much of the loan funds, and bought six West Baltimore properties, most of which quickly went into default beginning in January of this year, according to the indictment, which claims the scheme was put in place over a five-month period in late 2008. A seventh property purchase, attempted in December 2008, was thwarted by the Beltsville company, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jefferson Gray told the court.

Gray had asked that Daiga, 28, be held without bail, calling him a flight risk, but U.S. Magistrate Judge James K. Bredar appeared to believe that the defendant wasn't likely to return to Cameroon, which has recently undergone significant civil unrest. Bredar ruled that Daiga could stay with his sister in Laurel under electronic home monitoring. He must also put up 10 percent of the $2 million bond in cash or through lien-free real estate. Daiga is being detained until he can show that he can meet the requirements.

Oshosanya, who also goes by the name Olu Campbell, made his initial appearance Monday. The 28-year-old is not charged with either of the two identity theft counts. Gray also asked that Oshosanya be held without bail, saying he's a flight risk; Oshosanya has dual citizenship with Nigeria. A detention hearing has been set for Wednesday.

If convicted, both defendants face a maximum of 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine on each of the wire fraud counts. Daiga also faces two aggravated identity theft counts, which carry minimum mandatory sentences of two years.

Recent Maryland mortgage fraud cases

Dec. 28: Two Maryland residents appear in federal court on charges they stole more than $664,000 from a Beltsville lender in a mortgage fraud scheme.

Dec. 8: The Maryland attorney general's office charged David Young Park, a former president of Capital City Financial Group in Ellicott City, with felony theft for allegedly stealing a woman's refinance proceeds from the title company.

Dec. 7: The CEO of the Fort Washington Metropolitan Money Store was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison for her part in a $37 million mortgage fraud scheme that falsely promised to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

SOURCE: Maryland Mortgage Task Force

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