A Tough Defense Against Mortgage Fraud Charges
Mortgage fraud is the intentional misrepresentation of material information on a mortgage loan application by one or more individuals to qualify for a loan. Mortgage fraud is different from predatory lending, which is when a dishonest financial institution willfully misleads or deceives consumers. A conviction can result in the loss your property, severe financial penalties and prison time.
Mortgage fraud prosecutions are not as prevalent as they were 10 years ago, but South Florida is still the nation's leader in fraudulent loan applications. Federal criminal lawyer Ann Fitz defends the rights of clients who face federal mortgage fraud charges in the Southern District of Florida. You can schedule your consultation at the firm’s West Palm Beach office by calling 561-932-1690.
There are many examples of mortgage fraud, including:
- When a buyer purchases property as an investment or rental property but states on their mortgage application that it will be the primary or secondary residence
- When the buyer inflates his or her income on the mortgage application
- When the buyer intentionally omits liabilities on the mortgage application
- When the property is fraudulently appraised at a higher value than it is worth to obtain a larger mortgage
- When the buyer acquires multiple mortgages for the same property at the same time
Mortgage Fraud For Profit
Some examples of mortgage fraud for profit include equity skimming, property flipping and mortgage-related identity theft. Equity skimming involves the use of a false corporation, corporate identity theft, and the use or threat of bankruptcy or foreclosure to con homeowners and investors.
Property flipping involves purchasing properties and artificially inflating their value through false appraisals. The artificially valued properties are then repurchased several times for a higher price by “straw buyers.” After three or four fraudulent sales, the properties are foreclosed on. Approximately 80 percent of property flipping occurs when a mortgage industry insider, such as an employee of a bank or mortgage company, finds and recruits a “straw buyer,” or an investor with good credit, to participate in an illegal scheme disguised as a get-rich-quick investment scheme. The “straw buyer” may be an unwitting participant who gets stuck with a mortgage they cannot afford and a property that they cannot sell for the price paid.
Mortgage Fraud For Housing
Mortgage fraud for housing represents illegal actions perpetrated solely by the borrower with the motive of acquiring and maintaining ownership of a house under false pretenses. This type of fraud usually occurs when a borrower makes misrepresentations regarding their income or employment history to qualify for a loan, which implies bank fraud.
Bank fraud plays a part in this if a person reports a higher income or false employment on a mortgage application, or a fake corporation is set up to disguise poor credit. By using a fraudulent corporation and federal ID number instead of the individual’s Social Security number, a person can use corporate credit to qualify for a mortgage when their own credit does not suffice. Sometimes, inflated tax returns are submitted to show a higher income, which can also result in charges of tax fraud.
Charges Against Investors And Mortgage Professionals
Ann Fitz has represented both “straw buyers” and mortgage industry insiders. Mortgage fraud is a serious offense that carries a potential 20- to 30-year sentence. The crash of the sub-prime market caused the courts to become stricter and has resulted in increased penalties for offenders.
If you are charged in a mortgage fraud conspiracy, the role you had in the plot will play a large part in the severity of the punishment. The prosecution must show that you had the intent to commit the crime as charged. Even though there may be evidence that you participated in the scheme, you may have been one of the many victims of this crime.
Call A Defense Attorney Now
As your criminal defense lawyer, Ann Fitz will help you fight mortgage fraud charges and work to protect your freedom. Call her today at 561-932-1690 to schedule your consultation. You can also send her an email.