Hastings Couple Fined $100,000 for Mortgage Scheme

The couple allegedly purchased eight homes and received cash back during closing, only to allow those homes to fall into foreclosure.

A Hastings couple has been fined $100,000 by the Minnesota Department of Commerce for participating in a cash-back mortgage scheme.

According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Kristina Marie Birt bought eight homes between 2005 and 2006. The homes were allegedly purchased as investment properties with the intent of flipping them for a profit.

Birt bought the homes, which were generally for-sale-by-owner or private sales, at substantially higher amounts than the listing price to allow for cash back at or after the closing. In some cases, Birt allegedly received cash back directly from the seller.

Birt admitted that she allowed her husband, Matthew Birt, to complete the transactions and sign her name to the loan applications and closing documents.

The department said that the Birts, the sellers, the closer, and their loan officer, Derrick Lance, were all aware of the fraud taking place and openly discussed cash-back instructions. Eventually, all eight properties fell into foreclosure, which resulted in significant losses to the lenders.

Matthew Birt was ordered to pay a penalty of $75,000 and Kristina Birt was ordered to pay $25,000. Both had their real estate salesperson licenses revoked and have been permanently barred from engaging in mortgage originating or servicing activities in Minnesota.