HENRY COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) – On Monday, Sept. 25, the U.S. Department of Justice in the Western District of Virginia announced a Fieldale man has been indicted by a grand jury in Roanoke on federal charges in connection to a $1.3M in real estate scheme.
Court documents claim that on January 17, 2023, 40-year-old Herman Lee Estes Jr., called a real estate agent about purchasing $1.2 million Roanoke County property with the false claim of receiving an $18 million tax refund. Estes, who was on federal pretrial supervision due to an illegal firearms charge, told the real estate agent that this fraudulent tax refund would soon be transferred to his estate as part of a trust.
On January 25, 2023, Estes pled guilty to a federal firearms charge and remained on pretrial release. While awaiting his sentencing, he again contacted the real estate agent in March 2023 and falsely stated that he received his tax refund and was ready to move forward with the purchase of the $1.2M property.
Estes allegedly told the agent to prepare a $1.3M cash offer for the property and provided a letter, dated March 29, 2023, indicating he had been approved for a $1,315,000 private loan. Additionally, Estes gave the agent the phone number of a person he claimed was the manager of his purported trust.
The real estate agent called the number and spoke with an individual who falsely claimed to be Estes’s trust manager and approved the offer. The deal was approved and proceeded to close.
During the closing process, Estes provided the settlement company with a 62-page ‘extension of credit’ on April 10, 2023, which he falsely represented to be trust documents. Payment for the property was then allegedly made with a fraudulent cashier’s check in the amount of $1,307,199.43, using a routing number that was drawn from the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond.
The fraudulent check was deposited into an account at the American National Bank and Trust on April 13, 2023, and the closing for the sale occurred the following day. Estes then took full ownership of the property when the deed was recorded with the Circuit Court of Roanoke County.
On April 17, 2023, Estes’ alleged cashier’s check was determined to be fraudulent and returned by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
Estes has been charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, and with committing each of these offenses while on federal pretrial release. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
WFXR News will continue to provide you with the latest updates as they become available.