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Mar 22, 2018

Mortgage Fraud Lawyers

Mortgage fraud is one of those crimes that some people commit without understanding the magnitude of their actions. It can happen in one critical moment as you make a decision that will later come back to haunt you. This is also a crime that is often committed knowingly by real estate investors, appraisers and professionals working for credit unions, banks and other financial institutions. The laws are complex and the charges carry serious penalties, so representation from an experienced mortgage fraud lawyer is critical for those accused

What Is Mortgage Fraud?

The FBI defines mortgage fraud as a subcategory of Financial Institution Fraud that involves “material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission in relation to a mortgage loan.” There are many different crimes that can fall under the mortgage fraud umbrella, ranging from simple lies or omissions on a mortgage loan application to elaborate schemes that involve participation from multiple people.

There are three main categories of mortgage fraud currently recognized in the United States:

  • Fraud for Housing – This type of fraud is typically committed by someone who wants to obtain ownership of a home that they cannot afford to buy. The loan applicant may lie about their income in order to secure approval for a more substantial mortgage loan. In this case, they often don’t recognize the magnitude of their decision. Some individuals may intentionally mislead lenders or misrepresent themselves with more elaborate schemes, such as using fake documents.
  • Fraud for Profit – Many of these crimes are committed by insiders with significant knowledge of the real estate and mortgage markets. Some of the large schemes that you hear about in the news will fall under this category. Think about real estate appraisers who agree to inflate the value of a home and investors who purchase homes below value and then resell at higher prices without actually fixing anything in the home. Industry professionals often team up to carry out elaborate schemes that end up costing the lending institution thousands of dollars.
  • Fraud for Criminal Enterprise – These crimes are often secondary to other criminal acts. Criminals try to launder money illegally obtained through the housing market. The intent is not to gain housing for an individual or family but to cover up more elaborate criminal activity.

Criminal Charges & Penalties for Mortgage Fraud

There are currently no federal statutes specifically for crimes of mortgage fraud. Prosecutors can select from a variety of related statutes when charging someone believed to have committed this type of crime. This list will introduce you to the most commonly used statutes as described by the Department of Justice.

  • Mail Fraud – This statute is used when fake documents or those with misrepresentations and/or omissions are sent through postal mail. If you’re convicted, sentencing carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
  • Wire Fraud – Prosecutors are more likely to use this statute than mail fraud because most documents and funds are now sent through email, fax, and electronic transfer. There is a 20-year statutory maximum in place for this crime.
  • Bank Fraud – This charge only applies if the financial institution is the victim. This crime comes with a 30-year statutory maximum.
  • Interstate Transportation of Funds Obtained by Fraud – This applies when money that is illegally obtained is used to purchase real estate, essentially laundering the money. The money in question must total at least $5,000. The statutory maximum sentence for this crime is 10 years.
  • False Statements to a Financial Institution – This is used when someone provides false information to a financial institution to qualify for a higher loan amount or a better interest rate. The penalty can go up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine up to $1 million.
  • Money Laundering – This charge isn’t used as often because the instructions given to the jury are difficult to understand. The penalty if convicted can go up to 20 years in prison.
  • Conspiracy – There are multiple related statutes that may apply. Prosecutors often choose this category of charges because it allows them to describe elaborate mortgage fraud schemes with great depth. Sentences can go up to 30 years in prison.

Once charged with some form of mortgage fraud, you’re likely to receive additional charges that relate to the manner in which you carried out the alleged crime. This may include identity theft, giving false statements to a government agency or agent, or the use of a false social security number. There are some factors of the alleged crime that may allow the judge to give you a longer prison sentence.

Serious Charges Require Serious Legal Representation

As you can tell from the list of potential charges above, mortgage fraud is complex. It takes lawyers years of education, research, and experience to fully understand the many layers of a criminal trial for this type of offense, and the depth of the charges often overwhelm defendants with no legal training.

This is why it’s so important to seek legal representation the moment you’ve been charged or you suspect that charges are soon to come. A skilled lawyer will have a deep understanding of the charges and the nature of mortgage fraud crimes in general. They can help you present your case in court with the best chances of winning an acquittal.

There is never a guarantee that you will win any criminal case, but you put the odds more in your favor by selecting a passionate, experienced attorney. Mortgage fraud comes with substantial financial penalties and may put you behind bars for up to 30 years, so the investment in a solid defense is essential.

 

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35-37 36th St,
Astoria, NY 11106

Brooklyn

195 Montague St.
14th Floor,
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Manhattan

85 Broad Street, 30th Floor
New York, NY 10005

Phone

888-977-6335

Queens

35-37 36th St,
Astoria, NY 11106

Phone

888-977-6335

Brooklyn

195 Montague St.
14th Floor,
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Phone

888-977-6335