Shawn Portmann was sentenced last year to 10 years in Federal prison and 5 years probation. This is news to real estate agents throughout the Puget Sound area because his name was familiar as the top loan officer in the region… and probably the country. He pleaded guilty in the fall of 2012 to several counts of loan fraud. Between 2006-2008 he and his employees generated over $1 BILLION in loans! Portmann took home over $1.7 MILLION dollars a year using it to buy very expensive cars, yacht, homes. He could get anyone… absolutely ANYONE… a loan to purchase real estate… whether they had a job or not. He fabricated employment, financial and housing records to ensure that clients would get loans, properties would qualify, and in many cases, the buyer would take cash at the closing of the loan out of equity that did not exist. It was no secret to real estate agents, appraisers, title insurance, escrow companies, and other lenders. I knew it when it was happening. The fraud was easy to spot.
I watched as real estate agents sent him prospects that could never afford the homes they were buying. Agents made commissions on those sales. I taught Real Estate fraud classes constantly and heard story after story about the way they could get people into houses… especially if they sent clients to Portmann.
Shawn Portmann did this through his mortgage office, a branch of Pierce Commercial Bank. They, in turn, sold off the bad loans and eventually the house of cards just collapsed. Over 9 employees at his firm pleaded guilty and were sentenced for cooperating and creating false documents.
He is the successful one that rose to the top but illegally and denying it all along the way. He bullied others to do what it takes to make it happen and he reaped the profits. But, he brought down so many employees, put hundreds of homeowners into foreclosure and destroyed an entire bank. Those on the sidelines who were watching or even competing legally could not believe the fraud that would continue for years.
Real Estate agents always ask me why more people haven’t been taken to court for fraud. Not everyone will get caught. We don’t live in some kind of police state where if you do something illegal you will always get caught… We all speed sometimes on the freeway… and feel grateful that we didn’t get stopped! We don’t have the money and the investigation resources to catch everyone who commits a crime. But, we never know who will get caught, therefore we try to stay within the laws and, for example, drive the speed limit!