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Publish Date: 5/18/2005

Clients of ex-broker urged to review credit
Police believe loan officer has other victims

LONGMONT — Customers of a former mortgage broker accused of stealing a client’s identity last year are being urged by police to check their credit reports.

A detective investigating the case believes there may be other victims.

Jennifer Riley, 39, was arrested Friday after police say she used the Social Security number of a client to open several credit accounts and rang up $40,000 in credit card debt.

Longmont Detective Darin Marsing said former clients of Riley — who at the time of her arrest was working as a local escrow manager — should check their credit reports immediately for suspicious activity.

“Based on her (method of operation), it’s suspected that there may be other victims,” Marsing said. “She knows how to manage the accounts (to avoid being detected by identity fraud investigators). She could maintain these things indefinitely.”

Riley’s client told police Feb. 15 that her identity had been used to open the accounts, which she had not opened or authorized anyone else to open on her behalf, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The woman told police she suspected Riley, whom she had previously used as a loan officer on home purchases and had known for six years.

Riley has a criminal history that includes theft and fraud charges. Colorado court records show some of the theft charges were dropped, and that in 1991, she pleaded guilty to fraud by check and theft of less than $300.

There is no tracking system to keep tabs on mortgage brokers who have been convicted of felonies. And mortgage brokers do not have to be licensed.

“You could open a mortgage company this afternoon,” said Cheryl Dingwell, chair of the Colorado Association of Mortgage Broker’s ethics committee.

Dingwell said few industry safeguards exist to protect consumers. That’s why she and the mortgage brokers association are pushing for a registry and licensing of mortgage brokers, which would help private residents assess which businesses to patronize.

The association has filed an application with the state Department of Regulatory Agencies for a mortgage broker registry that would require background checks and potentially would give consumers a central location to lodge complaints. The state agency is expected to make a recommendation to the Colorado Legislature in October.

“(Consumers) are giving (brokers) all their account numbers, their credit information,” she said. “Someone could do a lot of damage with that kind of information.”

Marsing agreed.

“It’s up to each and every one of us to check our credit report annually,” he said, noting a person’s credit can be wrecked if identity theft goes unchecked. “I can’t check people’s credit. Only you have the right to check your credit report.”

When she was arrested Friday, Riley was employed as an escrow manager for LandAmerica Commonwealth, a national title company that has an office in Longmont. Officials for the company declined to comment.

Marsing said Tuesday that Riley deposited between $30,000 and $40,000 monthly in her Wells Fargo checking account.

“I don’t know where all of her money has been coming from,” Marsing said, noting that’s one reason he believes Riley may have stolen more than one identity.

During his investigation, Marsing said, he learned that Riley likely would not be making that much money doing the work she was doing.

“That type of a salary is inconceivable,” he said.

“No way is she making that type of money working for a title company.”

Riley previously worked for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Officials of that company also would not comment but acknowledged that she was formerly employed by them.

Riley also worked for the now-defunct Inspired Lending and Inspired Home Lending LLC, which are two separate companies.

Eddie Quintana, manager of Inspired Home Lending, stressed that Riley is not accused of loan fraud and that she could have stolen a friend’s identity at any time.

“She could have done that whether she worked at a lending company or not,” he said.

Quintana said he fielded dozens of phone calls Tuesday morning from concerned clients afraid that their private information had been jeopardized.

“Customers are calling wanting to back out of loans,” he said, noting that his company is reviewing all records and will assist any customers with concerns.

“We are small-business owners,” he said.

“We don’t want the repercussions for this. Our company has high integrity.”

Riley could not be reached for comment. She is free after posting her $15,000 bond and is expected in court May 26.

Jenn Ooton can be reached at 303-684-5295, or by e-mail at jooton@times-call.com.

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