Federal Mortgage Fraud Attorneys
Mortgage fraud is generally characterized as a type of misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission in relation to a mortgage loan. In most cases, an individual commits mortgage fraud when he/she knowingly makes a false statement that affects the bank’s decision to, for instance, approve a loan, reduce a payoff amount, or agree to repayment terms. If federal agents would prosecute accidental omissions or accidents, nearly 10 percent of mortgage applications would be fraudulent. What makes mortgage fraud a federal crime, however, is the intent of the applicant.
If you or a loved one has been charged with, or is under investigation for, mortgage fraud, it is crucial to hire a federal crimes defense lawyer experienced in mortgage fraud as soon as possible. At Grabel & Associates, we’ll are of the leading defense attorneys in Michigan to provide a comprehensive and aggressive defense.
For a free consultation with your mortgage fraud defense lawyer, contact Grabel & Associates at 1-800-342-7896. In the meantime, you can learn more about mortgage fraud below.
Federal Laws and Potential Penalties for Mortgage Fraud
Because there are no federal statutes that directly reference “mortgage fraud,” federal prosecutors may charge alleged offenders with other crimes, such as wire fraud, bank fraud, and even conspiracy. Nonetheless, the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (FERA), enacted in 2009, expanded the powers of federal law enforcement to prosecute any types of fraud, including mortgage fraud. Under FERA, convicted individuals may face sentences that include up to $1 million in fines and up to 30 years imprisonment.
Moreover, following the housing market collapse, the FBI and other federal agencies have broadened the law’s definition to better prosecute individuals who target distressed homeowners. The FBI further categorized fraud into two specific areas, including:
- Fraud for Profit — A high percentage of fraudulent schemes involve industry insiders, such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, and other professionals. When these insider individuals conduct a “Fraud for Profit” scheme, they tend to misuse a part of the mortgage process to steal cash or equity from lenders or homeowners.
- Fraud for Housing — This type of fraud generally involves borrowers who conduct illegal actions to acquire or maintain ownership of a house.
Under FEMA, the statute of limitations for these types of fraud is 10 years, and the statute of limitations can be tolled if the defendant is not in the country.
Types of Mortgage Fraud
In addition to the two areas of mortgage fraud listed in the above section, the FBI has identified several ways that offenders can commit fraud. These types of mortgage fraud can include:
- Property flipping — After buying a piece of real estate, the property is falsely appraised at a higher value and then quickly resold.
- Inflated appraisal — An appraiser, often working with a mortgage broker or loan officer, provides an unrealistically high value in order to match the buyer’s offer and complete the deal.
- Fraudulent supporting loan documentation — A loan applicant submits altered forged or falsified income information or otherwise fraudulent documentation
- Straw buyers — The buyer of property hides his/her identity through the use of a nominee, in whose name and credit history the loan application is made.
- Silent second — The property owner takes out a second mortgage to cover the down payment on the initial loan.
- Equity skimming — The investor uses a straw buyer, false credit reports, and false documentation to obtain a mortgage in the straw buyer’s name. After closing, the straw buyer signs the property over to the investor and relinquishes all property rights. The investor makes no payments on the property, but rents it out until the property is foreclosed.
Federal agents heavily investigate and prosecute these types of schemes, as well as many others. However, nothing is set in stone during a mortgage fraud case, and with a qualified and expert defense attorney, there are ways to challenge these types of mortgage fraud and achieve a desired legal outcome.
Contact Grabel & Associates for a Full-Service Defense
Those accused and convicted of committing mortgage fraud may be looking at years in federal prisons as well as hundreds of thousands (if not more) in fines. For these reasons, you need to get an experienced mortgage fraud attorney on your side as soon as possible. If you’re under investigation, an attorney can act as your spokesperson and will fight to prevent the charges from ever being filed. Otherwise, our federal crimes lawyers will diligently and tirelessly work to challenge the prosecution’s narrative and evidence by presenting evidence of our own.
Contact our law office online or call us today at 1-800-342-7896 to start working with a Grabel & Associates attorney today. Free consultations are available.