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St. Petersburg Real Estate Agent Sentenced to Eight Years for Mortgage Fraud

Mortgage fraud can refer to a variety of activities done in an attempt to obtain a mortgage loan when one would normally not be offered to an applicant. For example, falsifying or omitting information contained within a mortgage loan application to to obtain a loan for an individual who would not otherwise qualify for the loan is an act of mortgage fraud. Mortgage fraud can be committed by an applicant, by a real estate agent, or by a lender or underwriter.

In a recent case in St. Petersburg, a real estate agent who worked within a larger group to purchase an apartment community known as The Arbors and convert the apartments to condominiums, accepted a plea bargain that landed him in federal prison for eight years. This came after an FBI investigation of the group’s deceptive marketing practices, which promised incentives to buyers and failed to disclose facts to the buyers’ mortgage lenders about the units’ financing.

Mortgage Fraud is a Federal Crime

Mortgage fraud violates federal law, which is why it is investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and tried in federal courts. An individual can be charged with violating state law alongside federal law during a mortgage fraud investigation, which subjects him or her to penalties at both levels. Mortgage is often charged as a felony, but can be charged as a misdemeanor in cases where the victim was defrauded for $1,000 or less.

Typical penalties for a mortgage fraud conviction include:

  • Jail time;
  • Fines, which can reach $1 million;
  • Restitution; and
  • Probation.

Examples of Mortgage Fraud

Mortgage fraud can be a broad topic. Any time information is falsified for one’s personal gain through a fraudulent mortgage loan. Examples of mortgage fraud include:

  • Borrower fraud, which is where the borrower deliberately makes incorrect statements on his or her mortgage loan application. Generally, this is done not for profit, but to obtain housing; and
  • Professional fraud, which can be committed by a lender or a borrower. This is done for profit and can involve a complicated scheme with multiple players, such as accountants, builders, and real estate agents. For example, purchasing a home at a low price, then hiring a real estate appraiser to appraise the home for much more than it is worth so the buyer can “flip” it for a profit is a form of professional mortgage fraud.

Work with an Experienced Miami Mortgage Fraud Lawyer

If you have been accused of mortgage fraud, work with an experienced Miami mortgage fraud lawyer to defend your case. Contact our team at Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today to schedule your free legal consultation with a member of our team. A mortgage fraud accusation can be complicated, and if you are convicted of this offense, you can face steep penalties. Protect yourself and your future by working with Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC to develop a strong defense strategy for your case.

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