Escrow services scam is a type of fraud that involves using a fake escrow sites. Escrow refers to the use of a third party to secure funds in a transaction before the final deal. For example, a property buyer who needs to conduct a full inspection of a house before closing a deal may pay part of the price. This money is put in escrow and goes to the seller if the buyer finds everything satisfactory or back to the buyer if there is an issue. A neutral third party can also hold a deposit on a purchase before the buyer can get the rest of the money. The reasons are numerous when it comes to why people use escrow services.
For someone who has been accused of escrow fraud, getting a good lawyer is vital. Escrow services scams have different dynamics; hence the need for an attorney who understands them. The increasing opportunities for escrow fraud have made it necessary to provide specific services for this type of crime. An escrow service scam attorney will help you understand your case and the charges against you.
Type of Escrow Scams
Stealing funds deposited in an escrow account is one form of scam that can be perpetrated. Usually, this is covered up with fake instructions from the relevant parties. Misuse of funds is another way that escrow funds can go missing from the account. For instance, making bad investments with the money. Traditionally, escrow funds are supposed to stay in an account until the appropriate parties withdraw them.
Another scam technique is where an individual delivers a counterfeit check to the escrow agent and then asks money back for an emergency of some sort. The agent gives the money but doesn’t get funds because the check didn’t clear.
A seller can defraud a buyer by recommending a particular escrow site where to deposit funds. The buyer ends up losing money and the seller claims not to know anything.
Falsification of HUD-1 statements is something else that can land an individual in legal trouble. One common scam is the misrepresentation of title defects when conducting real estate deals.
The use of online sites to commit escrow scams usually involves stealing identities as well.
Penalties for Escrow Services Scam
The charge will usually depend on the type of fraud that you have committed. It will also matter where the scam happened. Charges such as theft, participating in a scheme to defraud, residential mortgage fraud, issuance of a bad check, larceny, and identity theft are just a few that fall into that category.
Note that such scams don’t only break state but federal laws as well. Postal, wire, and bank fraud are some of the charges that you may face. Federal crimes carry the toughest penalties, and you may be in more trouble than you had anticipated. Using wire communications for misrepresentation, false statements and promises can result in 20-30 year jail terms. The financial penalties are hefty as well with some going as much as $ 1 million. Federal charges come with a lot of scrutiny, which is not a good thing, whether for an individual or company.
Now that you grasp the magnitude of getting caught in an escrow scam, the importance of a defense lawyer is clear. Charges for fraud schemes are complicated because a lot of crimes fall under the same categories. Sometimes, the charge may not be very clear, or you may not have had the knowledge you were partaking in a crime. A lawyer should be the first person you discuss your charges with. You get to understand what the charges mean. An attorney has to assess your case to come up with an appropriate defense.
A conviction for fraud scheme will not only affect you but the people around as well. The effects will spill over to family members. For example, if you have a partner and share banking information, such an event would ruin both your credits. There is also the damage to your reputation and that of your company. An escrow service works on trust. Buyers and sellers expect an escrow agent to be neutral when conducting business. Losing that trust means the end of your business. You can mitigate the impact of a fraud charge by working with a legal expert. Lawyers who have years of experience navigating the justice system are what you need to improve your chances.