April 17, 2020
By Caity Witucki
Contributing Editor, Fraud Friday
Fraud Friday — Michigan Farmers Headed to Trial Over $68 Million Bank Fraud Charges
Melissa and Michael Stamp, the former owners of Stamp Farms in southwestern Michigan, are now headed to trial for allegedly obtaining a $68 million operating loan under false pretenses and committing crop insurance fraud.
In 2012, Melissa and Michael Stamp filed for personal bankruptcy. During the bankruptcy proceedings, Melissa was suspected of concealing property and assets from the court. As a result, the U.S. Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service and Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a criminal investigation into potential fraud.
According to the investigation, the Stamps applied for a $68 million loan from Wells Fargo in 2011. On the loan application, Michael Stamp allegedly overstated the amount of land that he farmed and the value of his company’s assets. After he obtained the loan, he continued to make misrepresentations to Wells Fargo about his business by creating false farmland leases and other documents.
Around the same time, the Stamps also allegedly defrauded the federal crop insurance program by filing false crop records and obtaining crop insurance in the names of entities with no insurable interest. To cover his tracks, Michael supposedly deleted files on Stamp Farms’ computer system and used software to wipe incriminating files.
Melissa and Michael Stamp were indicted in December 2018 for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, two counts of false statements on loan and credit applications, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and bankruptcy fraud. The couple entered separate plea agreements in April 2019. However, both of the plea agreements were withdrawn last week. As a result, they could be facing up 15 years in federal prison if they are found guilty at trial.
- Michigan Live – Stamp Farms owner, 2 others indicted in bankruptcy fraud scheme
- Michigan Live – Former owners of large Michigan farm heading to trial after plea agreements withdrawn
- Department of Justice – Former Owner Of Large Michigan Farming Operation Pleads Guilty To Bank Fraud And Crop Insurance Fraud