Man Pretends To Be Hank Paulson To Make Fake $353,000 Mortgage Payment To Citi, Succeeds

Tyler Durden's picture

Perhaps the most surreal fact about the case of 35 year old Bryan Gardner who back in 2009 sent CitiMortgage a $353,000 money order "drawn on the account of the 'Secretary of the Treasury Hank M. Paulson, Jr." in order to satisfy the final payment for a property in Bowie, Md, is that.... he succeeded. Fox Biz has more: "CitiMortgage erroneously accepted the document and credited Gardner's mortgage account in full," according to a Secret Service affidavit. Within months, Gardner sold the property for $254,900 and then "distributed the proceeds to others," according to public records and the Secret Service affidavit. Investigators believe Gardner may have initially secured the mortgage under false pretenses. Through a spokesman, an FBI agent who investigates mortgage fraud said he was surprised the scheme succeeded, and a former Justice Department official who helped lead fraud enforcement efforts in the wake of the financial meltdown agreed, calling the approval of the money order "bizarre." Perhaps what is more bizarre is just how a plan like this, which a 3 year old could concoct, but not even a 3 year old would be dumb enough to believe it would fly, actually succeeded. Just how big is the pool of "unclaimed" cash on deposit at CitiMortgage is there was i) no actual account was debited for the full amount and ii) nobody noticed that the Treasury department was paying off a private mortgage.

Unfortunately, we are confident that by the time the entire mortgage fraud house of cards is unwound, we will learn of cases in which President Lincoln personally prepaid mortgages closing in 2010. But have no fear: this is only money that will be funded out of the general Treasury ledger, and which you, dear taxpayer, will foot the bill for. Nobody else.

It gets even funnier as our law enforcers realize that merely the tip of the iceberg in mortgage fraud land is beyond ridiculous:

"I've never heard of a case where a mortgage for such a large amount was satisfied with a fraudulent instrument -- an instrument that's so on-its-face fraudulent," said Paul Pelletier, who until a few months ago was a top-ranking official in the Justice Department's Fraud Section. "You'd be amazed at how many people try and pass off (fraudulent) stuff. But does it ever work? No, it rarely works."


In fact, Gardner's alleged scheme didn't work the first time he tried. In November 2008, two months before his successful attempt, Gardner sent a nearly identical money order to CitiMortgage, but it was rejected, according to the Secret Service. The only difference the second time around: Gardner requested slightly more money, court documents say.


Pelletier said this case is "extraordinarily unusual" not only because CitiMortgage ultimately honored a fraudulent money order, but the company allowed it to be credited to Gardner's mortgage and likely issued a "satisfaction" on the mortgage, as reflected by Gardner's ability to sell the property.

As for Citi, why they have no idea what this means.

A CitiGroup spokesman said he was limited in the details he could offer about the case.


"We notify law enforcement authorities about matters of suspected fraud," spokesman Mark Rodgers said. "This case is currently under their purview, so we do not think it appropriate to provide details."


A spokeswoman for Paulson said the former treasury secretary was unaware of the case.


Pelletier, now with the firm Mintz Levin in Washington, said Gardner seems to have gotten "lucky" for two years, but in such cases, "You're going to get caught eventually."


Gardner has now been charged through criminal complaint with one count of mail fraud. A grand jury has yet to indict him.

We feel bad for Citi: perhaps the mortgage agent just thought they were returning a modestly reduced favor:

In November 2008, Paulson and other Bush administration officials agreed to lend CitiGroup $45 billion in taxpayer funds, hoping to stave off an even deeper financial crisis. It was one of the largest bailouts ever in U.S. history. CitiGroup has since repaid its debt to the U.S. government.

Right, by borrowing money from the Treasury to repay other money owed to the Treasury...

As for the brilliant Mr. Gardner...

According to public records in Maryland, Gardner filed for bankruptcy protection in February, and two months later he agreed to surrender his Ford Expedition and Waldorf home. The case has since been closed.

If nothing else, and TARP 2 is certainly not nothing else, the full extent of the fraud, potentially reaching well into the trillions, will provide for countless hours of late night and blogging humor. We can't wait.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
TruthInSunshine's picture

The Greasy Paulson gets the Cheddar, bitchez!

[Even when it's only a pretend Hank 'Tanks in the Street' Paulson]

SMG's picture

Good thing they caught the "criminal imposter"  Hank Paulson who stole $353,000 and not the "honest real" Hank Paulson who stole $850,000,000,000 for his banking friends.

traderjoe's picture

And deferred his GS capital gains in the process! Double bonus!

sdmjake's picture

Dammit SMG, you owe me for the drink i just spit out on my keyboard. That is freakin hilarious.

Gringo Viejo's picture

A contemporary American hero.  LMAO2

TruthInSunshine's picture
by SMG
on Tue, 08/16/2011 - 16:30


Good thing they caught the "criminal imposter"  Hank Paulson who stole $353,000 and not the "honest real" Hank Paulson who stole $850,000,000,000 for his banking friends.


+ Epic Truth. Hits hard. Hits True.

Well said.

waylon153's picture

Damn, even the government realizes how worthless fiat is now. This guy steals $300K and all he gets is a mail fraud charge and gives up his car?  How much is $300K in Zimbabwe bucks? 

Good thing he didn't buy gold with the funds otherwise he would have gotten the death penalty.....

A Nanny Moose's picture

The lesson? Next time, don't use the Post Orifice.

FEDbuster's picture

Maybe he should have aimed higher and used Ben Benanke's account?

Made me think of a great Mark Knopfler song, Postcards from Paraguay:

One thing was leading to the next
I bit off more than I could chew
I had the power to sign the cheques
It wasn't difficult to do
I couldn't stay and face the music
So many reasons why
I won't be sending postcards
From Paraguay

I robbed a bank full of dinero
A great big mountain of dough
So it was goodbye companero
And cheerio
I couldn't stay and face the music
So many reasons why
I won't be sending postcards
From Paraguay

I never meant to be a cheater
But there was blood on the wall
I had to steal from peter
To pay what I owed to paul
I couldn't stay and face the music
So many reasons why
I won't be sending postcards
From Paraguay


caerus's picture


JW n FL's picture

Keiser Report: Banking Looters (E173)

Cameron should SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Cameron is in the Bankers Pockets!



Racer's picture

Poetic justice


HelluvaEngineer's picture

So...I assume this still works

traderjoe's picture

So the belief among the sovereign crowd is that your birth certificate creates an account in your name at the Treasury. I can't link right now, but as I recollect, the account is used in part by credit companies to create money (for the double entry part). You can theoretically also use this account to draw money and make payments. I wonder if this is related to all of that.

pods's picture

So does this mean that O had to use his wife's account?

Thanks for reminding me about all that traderjoe, I research that from time to time and get lost in all the law mumbo jumbo.  Now I know what I am going to do tonight.

Any solid links on this?  (Besides Cornell law library)



tip e. canoe's picture

pods, someone was on ZH last year & shared a whole bunch of links.   unfortunately, all that stuff was archived and the forum went poof!   i do remember that most of his references were from cornell, fwiw.    good hunting.

Iam_Silverman's picture

"get lost in all the law mumbo jumbo. "

Is this in re the STRAWMAN argument?  I have read about that before, and yu are right.  I am not sure about the truth in the discussion.  But, I am willing to hear a layman's explanation as to why I should declare myself as a sole entity and deny the encumbrance of the STRAWMAN ledger entry...

Burnbright's picture

Yes, I believe you are correct.

1fortheroad's picture

Its called a (secured party creditor).


Or just google secured party creditor

tip e. canoe's picture

small but important edit : scroogle secured party creditor

Winisk's picture

That thought crossed my mind as well.  Sounds like something a Freeman would try. 

Sudden Debt's picture

They'll make a movie about that guy...

and I'm going to watch it.


DosZap's picture

<Sudden Debt
on Tue, 08/16/2011 - 15:56

They'll make a movie about that guy...

and I'm going to watch it.


SD, Hey,DB COOPER got NADA on this dude.

Sudden Debt's picture

 The only difference the second time around: Gardner requested slightly more money




vocational tainee's picture

I am mr, rompoy and I wii tax it..

Sudden Debt's picture

I don't think Obama has a European or American account ;)

I'd better try that in the Cayman's


prophet's picture

There is no hope and nothing will change.  Vote for me again.

Shineola's picture

Ah, yes....But, since it's Barry O, this clever ploy might get us caught.......unless...... we got a witch doctor to tattoo that certificate on a zebra hide... 


As far as I'm concerned, that would be a hell of a lot more convincing that the computer generated one from Hawaii. -Shine

Drater's picture

Project Mayhem bitchez

Cdad's picture



...and I only had to read the headline.  City must be trying to compete with Blight on America bank for most putrid national bank, which would put it in the running for most putrid bank world wide.

What a great story, Tyler.

The Swedish Chef's picture

Well, finally something good! Got me laughing pretty hard. Thnx, Tyler....

Cognitive Dissonance's picture


Stop asking so many damn questions and just cash the fooking check already. The world is full of greater fools.

Sancho Ponzi's picture

I wonder if this is how Timmay pays his mortgage?

carbonmutant's picture

With somebody elses money...

Iam_Silverman's picture

"I wonder if this is how Timmay pays his mortgage?"

Probably not - but I'd sure like to see the check (or money order) he used to pay his taxes with!

machineh's picture

I'm gonna charge my mortgage to the Barack Obama 2012 Presidential Campaign Committee.

And even include a little 'Helping American Homeowners' blurb to make it look authentic, along with a Banzai7 donut logo.

I can't lose!

Mercury's picture

Yeah, that sounds like a TBTF bank.  Just yesterday I was talking to a friend whose brother was living in Singapore last year working for Nestle or some place.  One day his HSBC account gets credited 70k Euros out of the blue.  The next day, another 40k Euros.  A couple days later a friendly private client services rep calls up and asks if he'd like to enroll in one of the bank's fantastic wealth management programs. thanks.

M.B. Drapier's picture

Yes. If (emphasis on if) Citi had a practise of quietly doing smallish but meaningful favours for Key Business Influencers, then it would be not surprising at all if no-one was keeping a very close eye on the bookkeeping for this goodwill program. Maybe it would also be not too surprising if no-one was putting much effort into ID verification, as that would also tend to generate paper trails and maybe piss off the KBIs. Again, I'm not saying there was such a program at Citi - and even if there was, there's no sign that the real Hank Paulson ever took advantage of it. But Citi might be a rock worth looking under.

NotApplicable's picture

If he tried it twice before he succeeded, I have to wonder if he had inside help getting the payment accepted. Especially since he "distributed the proceeds to others."

Sounds like a racket to me. The only thing that could make it more interesting is the infamous Linda Green.

TruthInSunshine's picture

Someone might withdraw tens of millions from JP Morgan Chase Bank NY, pretending to be The Bernank, and buy gold and silver with the fiatski paper.


optimator's picture

They probably pass a bunch of these every day that are real, so the pretend one wouldn't draw any examination.

TruthInSunshine's picture

+ 1,000,000,000 BernankBux (worth 1/20th ounce of Au)

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Actually mortgage fraud of the institutional kind extends back at least 20 years. Spend some time with Catherine Austin Fitts for a primer on this Love Fraud American Style.