by: Rachel Stockman Updated:ATLANTA —
A DeKalb County real estate agent is charged with taking part in a conspiracy to rig foreclosure auctions in both DeKalb and Fulton counties.
The U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division is investigating the conspiracy at foreclosure sales in the years surrounding the housing bust in Atlanta.
Sources tell Channel 2 Action News there is an ongoing federal probe that surrounds illegal activity occurring at auctions throughout the metro Atlanta area.
Seth Lynn, a DeKalb County real estate agent, is facing charges of conspiracy bid-rigging and mail fraud.
He is the only defendant named so far, according to sources.
In court documents, investigators said Lynn, along with others, "acquired rigged foreclosure properties at artificially suppressed prices" and "negotiated payoffs with one or more conspirators in exchange for the agreement not to compete at a public auction."
Prosecutors allege the conspirators, including Lynn, would then conduct secret auctions open only to members of the conspiracy and awarded rigged foreclosure properties to co-conspirators who submitted the highest bid.
Lynn runs Penguin Properties, a company that buys foreclosed homes, and then rehabs them to resell.
Attorney Jay Strongwater, who represents Seth Lynn, said Lynn plans to enter a guilty plea next week after a bargained plea agreement.
Lynn will cooperate with the U.S. Attorney's Office in their investigation.
"I am pretty comfortable in saying for the Antitrust Division to get involved, its significant amounts of money," said Bill Thomas, a former assistant U.S. Attorney.
When asked to confirm the federal probe, Channel 2's Rachel Stockman received an automatic email back from the spokesperson for U.S. Attorney's Office in Northern District of Georgia's stating that he will be unable to answer emails due to the government shutdown.