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Former Dunkirk housing counselor charged with defrauding clients

January 29, 2011
OBSERVER Staff Report

BUFFALO - U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr., announced today that a criminal complaint was filed in U.S. District Court charging Lori J. Macakanja, 35, of Dunkirk with mail fraud and falsifying documents to influence the action of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, Macakanja, in her capacity as a housing counselor employed by HomeFront, Inc., inappropriately requested money from clients. Macakanja told HomeFront clients that the money would be used toward loan modifications to prevent foreclosure on their homes. However, after receiving the funds, Macakanja used the money for her own personal use and failed to obtain the loan modifications for the victims. Over 100 HomeFront clients were defrauded with losses exceeding $200,000. In addition, Macakanja also obtained federal grant monies from the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA) for HomeFront clients. On two occasions, she diverted $2,000 worth of BURA money to pay her own personal mortgage.

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Mortgage Fraud Task Force of Western New York which includes agents and personnel from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General; the Internal Revenue Service; the United States Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Mortgage Fraud Task Force of WNY is led by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Macakanja is scheduled to appeared in U.S. District Court on Feb. 1, at 10 a.m. for arraignment.



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