Mortgage Fraud Defense Lawyer in Naples
Collier County, Florida federal criminal attorneys fighting for you
Individuals accused of misrepresenting or omitting information on mortgage applications, appraisals or any other documents related to mortgage lending could be prosecuted under Florida State or federal law. Mortgage fraud occurs on both the borrower and real estate professional sides of the transaction. This creates the two categories of mortgage fraud known as housing fraud and fraud for profit. Fraud for housing happens when borrowers knowingly mislead a lender. Fraud for profit is committed by insiders, like an appraiser or mortgage broker, who want to inflate their earnings from a housing transaction. Federal prosecutors will be likeliest to get involved in a case when it has a large scope and involves other offenses, such as money laundering or an organized criminal conspiracy. Someone concerned about the course of a fraud investigation or who has been recently arrested can speak with a highly qualified Naples mortgage fraud lawyer at Joffe Law, P.A. Timely legal advice could prepare an individual to respond to serious allegations.
Mortgage fraud defined
A crime occurs when people misrepresent, omit or fabricate relevant information when seeking a mortgage. Almost any misrepresentations or falsehoods that influence a lender or underwriter’s decision to fund, buy or insure a property can serve as evidence of mortgage fraud. Anyone involved in a property transaction, including real estate agents, mortgage brokers, loan officers, appraisers or buyers, could be in a position to commit mortgage fraud.
An example of mortgage fraud in Naples, Florida, illustrates how a buyer’s false statements on mortgage applications violated the law. The result was a five year prison sentence for the man along with an order to pay $180,000 in restitution. According to an investigation by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, he filed a forged quitclaim deed so that he would appear to be the owner of a home in Naples worth approximately $375,000. He then claimed on two separate mortgage applications that the property was earning him rental income. As a result, he received two loans totaling over $180,000 on the basis of false information.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
Mortgage fraud comes in many forms
The term mortgage fraud is a big tent that covers many offenses. Some of the activity crosses over into other forms of fraud, but they have mortgage-related deceptions in common.
Fraudulent loan application (including identity fraud)
Borrowers who submit mortgage applications containing false information or supply supporting documents that are forged or altered are committing fraud. Fake payroll records, inflated business income, or the use of a stolen identity are examples of ways that this offense occurs.
Deceptive property flipping
House flipping is a legitimate business activity unless a seller bases the selling price on a fraudulent property appraisal. A buyer who pays too much based on an inflated appraisal has been defrauded.
A straw buyer is someone who acts to hide the identity of the person who is truly paying to buy a property. The straw buyer’s identity and income records are used to secure a mortgage.
This term describes secretly getting a loan to pay for a down payment on a property. Because the mortgage lender does not know about this loan, it cannot base the lending decision on an accurate income and debt analysis.
his offense starts with a straw buyer who conceals the true identity of the buyer. After the straw buyer obtains a mortgage and closes on the home, that person signs ownership of the property over to the secret buyer. The real buyer then collects rent on the home without ever making mortgage payments. Eventually, the home goes into foreclosure.
Appraiser collusion with lender
A high appraised value enables the financing of a higher sale price. Appraisers sometimes conspire with mortgage brokers or loan officers to supply inflated appraisals so that a real estate transaction can proceed at an unrealistically high price.
Mortgage-related money laundering (criminal enterprise)
Real estate often provides the means for criminal organizations to launder large amounts of cash. People within the criminal organization use false information about supposedly legitimate income to qualify for mortgages. The loan payments are then made with money earned through the criminal enterprise. This process effectively hides the source of money because everything on paper appears normal.
Mortgage fraud penalties
In 2009, the passage of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act authorized law enforcement agencies to take stronger action against crimes in the mortgage industry. As a result, people prosecuted under federal law are at risk of serious penalties. According to the law, offenders may face 30-year prison sentences as well as fines up to $1 million.
Investigations into alleged mortgage-related misdeeds frequently produce multiple criminal charges. Investigators might encounter evidence of other financial crimes, like tax evasion, identity theft or money laundering. When financial crime enforcement units detect large criminal organizations, they cast a wide net that might place blame upon rank-and-file employees at lenders, real estate agencies or appraisal offices who did not know that were participating in illegal activity. Their day-to-day work may have appeared legitimate. Even so, any request for information coming from law enforcement justifies contacting an attorney for advice. Anyone under suspicion may inadvertently worsen their legal position when speaking to authorities without the benefit of legal guidance.
Retain a defense attorney focused on financial crimes
Mortgage fraud allegations may be based on complex and convoluted paper trails. Suspects will want representation from an attorney experienced with fraud and white collar crimes. If federal authorities are involved, the attention of an attorney who has defended clients in federal criminal court will be crucial. Steadfast legal representation has the potential to force prosecutors to see the limitations of their evidence. The prospect of contending with a detailed defense strategy may reduce a prosecutor’s willingness to move forward with criminal charges.