Mortgage fraud is one of the most common types of fraud committed in this country. Federal agencies have increased their resources in recent years to prosecute mortgage fraud more aggressively.
Penalties for mortgage fraud will depend on the individual facts and circumstances of the case. It often involves federal law violations, and is prosecuted as wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. Mortgage fraud usually ends up with felony charges, and perpetrators can face years in prison in addition to fines, fees and restitution totaling millions of dollars.
At Dhar Law, LLP, in Charlestown, our committed attorneys have decades of experience representing clients charged with mortgage fraud and similar criminal charges. We have defended our clients before government proceedings, investigations and in the courtroom before judge and jury.
What Is Mortgage Fraud?
Lenders consider a number of factors when determining whether to approve a mortgage, and for how much money. Mortgage fraud involves intentionally misrepresenting information to get a mortgage loan, or to get a larger loan than one would have otherwise received. This includes material misstatement, misrepresentation or omission of information relied upon by a lender to fund a loan.
There are a number of areas in a mortgage application that can be misrepresented to obtain a fraudulent mortgage. These can include falsely stating that the borrower will be an occupant in the purchased property to get a better rate, overstating income to get a larger loan, failing to disclose other debts and liabilities to lower their debt-to-income ratio, seeking multiple loans on the same property, inflated appraisal and even identity theft to obtain a mortgage in another person's name.
How Mortgage Fraud Is Discovered
When financial institutions discover suspicious activity, they file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR). Mortgage fraud can be detected by a variety of participants in the mortgage process. These include lenders, closing agents, appraisers and brokers. Once they identify suspicious activity, they may report it to the financial institutions, mortgage companies, local law enforcement or federal investigators including the FBI.
Red flags that call for increased scrutiny include:
- Several loans to a single applicant
- No-money-down sales pitches
- References to secondary financing in a contract, but not in the loan application
Oftentimes, mortgage fraud is not detected until the loan goes into default. At that point, the lender may discover that the loan application contained misrepresentations that inflated the value of the mortgage.
Charges You May Face
Some federal criminal violations that may be charged in connection with mortgage fraud include:
- HUD and Federal Housing Administration transactions
- Fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents
- Fictitious name or address
- Fraud by wire
- Fraud and swindles by mail
- Bank fraud
- False Social Security number
Defenses To Mortgage Fraud
Oftentimes, mortgage fraud involves unsuspecting straw buyers, identity theft or loans taken out in other people's names. This may result in innocent people being drawn into a mortgage fraud investigation. Mortgage fraud convictions require intent to defraud, so accidental or mistaken misrepresentations may be an effective defense to fraud.
Your First Step Is To Meet With A Lawyer
If you receive a subpoena in relation to allegations of mortgage fraud, you need experienced legal counsel to help you decide what steps to take to protect you and your home. Call 617-391-0592 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation. We will review the facts of your case and recommend an effective course of action.