Mortgage Fraud Defense Lawyer in Miami
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Mortgage fraud schemes in Miami, Florida are complex and can involve several different players, all of whom may be charged and convicted of federal crimes. Lenders and borrowers may be complicit in a scheme. Generally, this type of crime occurs when a person intentionally lies, omits or confuses information when applying for a home loan. Although Florida has its own mortgage fraud statute, cases are typically prosecuted as federal crimes, which means defendants may be subjected to harsher penalties if convicted. This makes it imperative to seek the services of a Miami mortgage fraud attorney as soon as you suspect you might be facing charges.
Under federal law, the elements of mortgage fraud are usually prosecuted as bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, or any other white collar offense that may be committed as part of the overall scheme. There are several different types of related frauds that may be committed individually or as a group.
Investors sometimes commit occupancy fraud by falsely claiming they plan to purchase a property for the purpose of personally living on the property. This may seem like a small misrepresentation; however, investors engage in this type of fraud because banks usually give lower interest rates to owner-occupant applicants due to the higher delinquency rate of loans for investment properties. Florida banks also approve higher loan amounts to applicants who indicate they will actually live in the home they would like to purchase. A new investor may commit occupancy fraud without knowing that doing so is a crime and constitutes a federal offense. A mortgage fraud lawyer in Miami can help the individual establish his or her lack of intent to commit fraud and potentially avoid strict federal sentencing.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
A borrower in Miami may be tempted to overstate his or her income to qualify for a higher loan amount. Misstating income may also seem like a slight misrepresentation, but doing so constitutes a type of mortgage fraud that is known as income fraud., which was common prior to the 2008 economic crisis. Before the related real estate industry fallout, borrowers could qualify for stated income loans, which allowed the applicant, or a loan officer on the applicant’s behalf, to state the required income to qualify for the desired amount without providing verification of the stated income. Related to income fraud, applicants may also commit employment fraud by falsifying their position or claiming self-employment to justify the higher income amount listed on the application.
In some cases, a home appraiser may engage in fraud by overstating the value of a home. An appraiser may falsely appraise a home at well over market value if he or she wants to help the seller get a better price than the home would otherwise warrant, help the buyer qualify for financing because the amount of the mortgage may be much higher than the home is worth, or help a homeowner qualify for a larger equity loan. A mortgage appraiser may be involved in a larger scheme, or another party in Miami may forge an appraisal to achieve the desired outcome.
A person may completely assume the identity of someone else and take out financing on the victim’s home. Identity theft is the fastest-growing type of mortgage fraud in Florida. In one version of this type of scheme, a person steals the identity of someone who currently owns a home and obtains financing against the home and never repays the money. In this case, the homeowner may not be aware his or her identity information has been stolen until he or she is notified of a pending eviction. Another version involves individuals and groups that pose as fraudulent companies that can help homeowners who are unable to make their mortgage payment. A fee is charged n addition to obtaining the individuals’ Social Security Number and other important information and using the personal data to take out additional financing, open accounts in the victim’s name, and ultimately completely exploit the individual’s credit and finances, often leaving the victim facing foreclosure.
Broker/loan officer fraud
A Miami loan officer or mortgage broker may commit fraud my falsifying an applicant’s income without the applicant’s knowledge. If the applicant will not qualify for a loan with his or her actual income, the broker or loan officer may state a higher income in the interest of getting the application approved. In the end, the applicant may default on the loan. By the time that happens, the broker or loan officer has collected his or her commission for the loan and moved on.
Case pending in Miami?
In certain cases, a mortgage applicant, homeowner, or real estate professional may be completely unaware that he or she may have been involved in an act that constitutes fraud. Those finding themselves in this situation should not panic. Calling a Miami federal defense lawyer immediately can help accused individuals communicate with investigators and help the individual protect his or her reputation and constitutional rights. Federal cases are of a different caliber as they are prosecuted by very accomplished federal prosecutors and heard by esteemed federal judges. Therefore, defendants who are facing a very serious charge require the support and representation an experienced mortgage fraud attorney in Miami can provide. Joffe Law, P.A. is available now to provide a free case evaluation to individuals in Miami who are facing a related federal charge.