GREENEVILLE — A Bristol, Tennessee, real estate agent has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges in connection with a four-year scheme whereby she swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars from investors by selling them property she did not own.
Tammy Lynn Hawk was named in a four-count information filed last month in U.S. District Court in Greeneville. Hawk, a licensed affiliate broker, has been charged with and has agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering and making a false tax return.
She faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $1.25 million.
According to the plea agreement, Hawk devised a scheme beginning in December 2015 to defraud potential real estate investors out of thousands of dollars by lying to them about the ownership status of various properties.
Under the scheme, Hawk would often falsely tell potential investors about parcels of property that she could arrange to sell, and in turn they could resell for profit. Prosecutors say Hawk would often claim to have a potential buyer lined up to purchase the property.
DETAILS OF THE SCHEME
According to the plea agreement, Hawk would tell investors a company called Home Source Direct would purchase the property, sell it to them, and then they could either sell the property to a buyer she allegedly had waiting or flip it for a profit.
Prosecutors say Hawk would require cash payments and provide phony contracts from Home Source Direct.
“In reality, neither (Hawk) nor Home Source Direct owned the properties,” court records state. “(Hawk) would instead take the payments for her own personal expenses or to repay prior victims of her swindle. Oftentimes (Hawk) would take travel junkets or gamble.
“In essence, (Hawk) was taking substantial sums of money for properties she did not own and could not transfer,” the plea agreement states.
FALSE TAX RETURNS
Throughout the course of the scheme, Hawk routinely filed false income tax returns that omitted the money she had received by selling properties she did not own. Hawk admits in the plea agreement she swindled between $500,000 and $1.5 million from more than 10 victims.
Prosecutors say Hawk filed for bankruptcy when she realized she would not be able to repay all of the people she defrauded and again made false statements in those filings about the amount of income she actually had.
“(Hawk) used multiple sham contracts, a computerized signature program that permitted active concealment of her fraud, at least one forged signature and numerous other false documents to hide and conceal what she was doing,” court records state.
The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance revoked Hawk’s real estate broker license on Thursday.