Savannah man sentenced to federal prison for house-flipping scheme

Crime & Safety

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A Savannah man is heading to federal prison for fraud in a house-flipping scheme, according to the Southern District of Georgia.

Christopher Grooms, 41, of Savannah, repeatedly borrowed money against the same properties. Grooms pleaded guilty to wire fraud with no parole, officials said.

“Financial fraud temporarily enriches criminals at the long-term expense of legitimate businesses,” Acting U.S. Attorney David H. Estes, said. “As Christopher Grooms discovered, our law enforcement partners are adept at rooting out these schemes, and his ill-conceived investment in criminal activity is returning a dividend of time behind bars.”

Grooms was ordered to repay more than $4.5 million and sentenced to 33 months in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker, Estes said.

Grooms operated several real estate investment companies from 2013 to 2018 that bought and resold real estate, according to court documents and testimony. He developed a scheme where one company would buy a property using borrowed funds and falsify documents to show the property’s lien had been satisfied, according to the Southern District of Georgia.

Grooms used this scheme 24 times amounting to nearly $3 million in fraudulent loans, with properties located in Savannah, Hinesville, Glennville, Midway and Allenhurst, according to officials.

“This sentence should serve as a stark reminder that such greed as seen in this case comes with a bigger cost,” Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, Chris Hacker said. “The FBI recognizes the impact on the banking institution and will continue to dedicate investigative resources to target fraud in its many forms.”

The FBI, Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General Special Agent Kelly Burlingame, the GBI and the Tattnall County Sheriff’s office investigated the case. The United States Attorneys Tara M. Lyons and Asset Recovery Unit Chief Xavier A. Cunningham prosecuted the case.

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