Bend Couple Charged with $4.4 Million Investment Scheme

Bend Couple Charged with $4.4 Million Investment Scheme
Federal Bureau of Investigations _ Portland

EUGENE, OR—A federal grand jury sitting in Eugene, Oregon today returned an indictment against Tamara Sawyer, 47, and Kevin Sawyer, 58, of Bend, Oregon, on a variety of charges, including conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering.

According to the indictment, defendants Tamara Sawyer, a licensed real estate broker, and her husband, Kevin Sawyer, used three of their companies, Starboard LLC, Starboard Indiana LLC, and Synergyz LLC, to solicit individuals to invest more than $7 million in real estate. Reportedly, defendants enticed investors by falsely promising high rates of return, typically 12 percent, and secured the investments with promissory notes. As stated in the indictment, defendants, rather than investing the money as promised, used it to fund their other companies and ventures and to pay personal expenses, including cars, credit cards, and the construction of their vacation home in Mexico. Additionally, as contained in the indictment, defendants, as the scheme progressed and investors began to demand a return on their investment, used new investor money to pay older investors. According to the indictment, defendants caused investors to lose more than $4.4 million.

Defendants are also charged with mortgage-fraud related charges for allegedly submitting fraudulent home loan applications to financial institutions to secure financing to purchase homes. As alleged in the indictment, defendants misrepresented the source of down payments and assets. “Real estate scams like the one alleged here helped cause the housing market to crater—with impacts far beyond the investors who lost money,” said U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton. “Holding people who ran these schemes accountable is a key part of getting back on the road to economic security.”

“The people of Central Oregon have suffered greatly in these tough economic times,” said Arthur Balizan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “Those who would take advantage of that situation—and target hard-working people with empty promises of big money—are going to come on our radar screen. We take these types of cases very seriously.”

“IRS Criminal Investigation will always be there to pursue those who allegedly play fast and loose with investor’s money for their own personal gain,” said Marcus Williams, the IRS Special Agent in Charge of the Pacific Northwest.

Arraignments are set for November 8, 2010, at 1:30 p.m. before the Honorable Thomas M. Coffin at the federal courthouse in Eugene, Oregon.

An indictment is only an allegation of a crime, and all defendants should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott E. Bradford.

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