A Minnetonka man faces civil charges that he bilked mortgage lenders out of $3.3 million in an elaborate scheme involving inflated purchase prices and kickbacks.

Steven R. Carver, 43, allegedly arranged about 18 property sales in 2005 at inflated prices with kickbacks both for the buyer and himself, the state Department of Commerce said Wednesday. Many of the properties wound up in foreclosure or short sales.

In one case in 2005, Carver allegedly helped one couple buy six properties that carried prices marked up to $60,000 above market value. Carver allegedly took kickbacks ranging from $3,600 to $9,500 per deal. The couple also allegedly took kickbacks and, at Carver's direction, used the money to buy more properties.

Carver was the main broker at Carver & Associates Real Estate. His license has since lapsed.

According to the Commerce Department, Carver dodged its investigators, telling them last year that he was in Georgia on his way to "sail around the ocean for a couple of years" and that he hadn't lived at his Minnetonka address for two years. When department investigators drove to the house, they found Carver cleaning the swimming pool.

Carver's lawyer, Tim Webb, issued a statement Wednesday saying the case has no merit. The Department of Commerce "mischaracterizes" what happened, Webb said.

He said Carver talked to investigators several times between 2008 and 2011 but didn't want to talk to them any longer "so he blew them off."

"He had no contact with the lenders in these transactions and certainly had nothing to do with 'omitted information on loan documents' or 'fraudulent mortgages' as alleged by the DOC," Webb said in the statement.

Webb said in an interview that Carver was financially devastated by the collapse of the real estate market and "lost everything."

A prehearing conference is scheduled for Feb. 16 before an administrative law judge at the Department of Commerce in St. Paul.

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683