What Can I Do if I am Charged with Mortgage Fraud?
According to the FBI, mortgage fraud is “any material misstatement, misrepresentation or omission relied upon by an underwriter or lender to fund, purchase or insure a loan.” Mortgage fraud can be committed by an individual seeking a mortgage to purchase a home or a lender looking to turn a profit. There are many different ways an individual or a group can commit an act of mortgage fraud, and all of them are criminal offenses. Fraud in all of its forms is a theft crime that relies on deceiving a victim for financial gain.
Examples of Mortgage Fraud
When you first hear the term “mortgage fraud,” it is not always easy to understand what it means specifically. In a general sense, mortgage fraud is any type of fraud involving a mortgage. In more specific terms, it describes all of the following:
- Appraising a property for more money than it is actually worth in an effort to secure a larger mortgage than necessary for the property;
- Submitting a mortgage application using falsified information about the borrower, such as false information about his or her financial circumstances or credit score or by submitting an application under a false, potentially stolen, identity;
- Foreclosure prevention scams, such as “credit counseling” scams and loan modification scams;
- Offering financial aid to a homeowner facing economic hardship in order to buy the home for less than it is worth; and
- Impersonating a borrower on his or her behalf in order to obtain a mortgage.
Mortgage fraud can be committed against a lender, a borrower, or a homeowner. When it occurs, it hurts all parties and potential new borrowers.
Penalties and Possible Defenses to a Mortgage Fraud Charge
Mortgage fraud is a federal crime. Typically, it is charged as a felony but in some small scale cases, it can be charged as a misdemeanor. Individuals who are convicted of this federal felony face:
- Up to 30 years in prison;
- A fine of up to $1 million;
- Restitution; and
If you are charged with mortgage fraud, your defense strategy could involve proving that you did not intent to commit a fraudulent act. Mortgage applications and modifications can be complicated, and it can be easy to make mistakes. Your defense strategy could also involve demonstrating that you were not the individual who actually committed the act, that the other party involved consented to the incident of alleged fraud, or that there is not sufficient evidence to show that you committed the act with the intent of defrauding others.
Work with an Experienced Miami Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with mortgage fraud, start working on your case’s defense strategy with a member of Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today. We are a team of experienced Miami criminal defense lawyers who can help you develop an effective, personalized defense strategy for your case. Contact our firm today to set up your initial consultation in our office.