ABINGDON, Va. (WRIC) — A husband and wife realty team from Wise County are headed to federal prison after they pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a scheme that netted them over $300,000 in commissions for sales that never existed.
Jessee and Natasha Deloach, the owners of Koltown Properties, will now spend 15 months in prison, and pay $146,273 in restitution to the companies they defrauded.
In the indictment filed against the Deloaches in November 2021, prosecutors described how the scheme was carried out on a property in Bristol, Virginia.
The house, located on a golf course just a few miles North of the Tennessee-Virginia Border, was put under contract in February 2019. The sellers – identified only as RH and WH in the indictment – signed an electronic contract valuing the home at $610,000.
The real estate agent who completed the sale – Jessee Deloach – forwarded the contract to a commission advance company based in Texas. Commission advance companies essentially credit real estate agents their commissions in exchange for a fee and the right to collect the actual commission when its paid.
For a fee of $1,560, Jessee Deloach would receive his $13,000 commission up front. But the company wanted to verify that the sale had in fact been made under the terms Deloach had outlined, so they called the number Deloach had provided for the Excel Title Company, which had been put in charge of closing the sale.
A representative of Excel, Melissa Bevins, confirmed the sale, and the company wired Deloach his $13,000.
The only problem? The sale had never taken place.
According to the indictment, RH and WH had never even agreed to sell the home, and even if they had, there was no buyer lined up. Deloach had forged their signatures on the contract, stealing their identities to complete the appearance of a sale.
The verification, which was supposed to confirm the facts of the sale, was in fact just another part of the scheme. ‘Melissa Bevins’ never existed – and the Excel title Company only existed on paper.
Both were fabrications by Natasha Deloach, who answered the call from the commission advance company and verified her husbands fraudulent contract.
Over a period of four years, the Deloaches obtained around $300,000 through the same basic scheme, utilizing various fake title companies and in some cases altering otherwise valid home sale contracts.
Natasha and Jessee Deloach were originally charged with one count of wire fraud, two counts of identity theft and one count of conspiracy. As part of the plea agreement, they admitted their guilt on the charge of wire fraud, while having the remaining charges dropped.
As part of the plea agreement, the Deloaches were also required to sell a home they owned at 6700 Pole Bridge Road in Wise County. The proceeds of that sale went to pay restitution towards the 8 companies they defrauded.
The companies may find it hard to recoup the rest of the money, however.
In an interview with FBI agents, Jessee Deloach told them the couple started the scheme in 2016 after they ran into money troubles, and court records show the couple twice filed for bankruptcy before their arrest in 2021.