Mortgage Fraud Attorney in Miami, FL
If you or a loved one is facing mortgage fraud charges, it is critical to consult with an experienced Miami mortgage fraud attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. You need the counsel of an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer to guide you through the mortgage fraud laws and processes to maximize your chances of resolving your case with a favorable outcome.
What is Mortgage Fraud?
Mortgage Fraud is a white-collar fraud offense and can be prosecuted as a state and federal crime. Typically, state mortgage fraud cases are investigated by local law enforcement agencies, the State Attorney’s Office Mortgage Fraud Unit, or the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Federal mortgage fraud cases can be investigated by any number of Federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.
Mortgage Fraud is defined as a material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission relied upon by an underwriter or lender to fund, purchase, or insure a loan. There are two types of Mortgage Crime: fraud for property and fraud for profit. Fraud for Property, also known as Fraud for Housing, usually involves the borrower as the perpetrator on a single loan. The borrower makes a few misrepresentations, usually regarding income, personal debt, and property value, or there are down payment problems. The borrower wants the property and intends to repay the loan. Sometimes industry professionals are involved in coaching the borrower so that they qualify. Fraud for Property/Housing accounts for 20 percent of all fraud.
Fraud for Profit involves industry professionals. There are generally multiple loan transactions with several financial institutions involved. These frauds include numerous gross misrepresentations, including overstated income, assets, collateral, misstatements regarding the length of employment, and fictitious employment. These misrepresentations are then backstopped by co-conspirators. The borrower’s debts are not fully disclosed, nor is the borrower’s credit history, which is often altered. Often, the borrower assumes another person’s identity (straw buyer). The borrower states he intends to use the property for occupancy when he/she intends to use the property for rental income or is purchasing the property for another party (nominee). Appraisals almost always list the property as owner-occupied. Down payments do not exist or are borrowed and disguised with a fraudulent gift letter. The property value is inflated (faulty appraisal) to increase the sales value to make up for no down payment and to generate cash proceeds in fraud for profit.
Common Mortgage Fraud Schemes
Property Flipping – Property is purchased, falsely appraised at a higher value, and then quickly sold. What makes property illegal is that the appraisal information is fraudulent. The schemes typically involve one or more of the following: fraudulent appraisals, doctored loan documentation, inflating buyer income, etc. Kickbacks to buyers, investors, property/loan brokers, appraisers, and title company employees are common in this scheme. A home worth $20,000 may be appraised for $80,000 or higher in this type of scheme.
Silent Second – The buyer of a property borrows the down payment from the seller through the issuance of a non-disclosed second mortgage. The primary lender believes the borrower has invested his own money in the down payment when, in fact, it is borrowed. The second mortgage may not be recorded to further conceal its status from the primary lender.
Nominee Loans/Straw Buyers – The identity of the borrower is concealed through the use of a nominee who allows the borrower to use the nominee’s name and credit history to apply for a loan.
Fictitious/Stolen Identity – A fictitious/stolen identity may be used on the loan application. The applicant may be involved in an identity theft scheme: the applicant’s name, personal identifying information, and credit history are used without the true person’s knowledge.
Inflated Appraisals – An appraiser acts in collusion with a borrower and provides a misleading appraisal report to the lender. The report inaccurately states an inflated property value.
Foreclosure Schemes – The perpetrator identifies homeowners who are at risk of defaulting on loans or whose houses are already in foreclosure. Perpetrators mislead homeowners into believing that they can save their homes in exchange for a transfer of the deed and up-front fees. The perpetrator profits from these schemes by remortgaging the property or pocketing fees paid by the homeowner.
Equity Skimming – An investor may use a straw buyer, false income documents, and false credit reports to obtain a mortgage loan in the straw buyer’s name. After closing, the straw buyer signs the property over to the investor in a quit claim deed, which relinquishes all rights to the property and provides no guaranty to the title. The investor does not make any mortgage payments and rents the property until foreclosure takes place several months later.
Air Loans– This is a non-existent property loan where there is usually no collateral. An example of an air loan would be where a broker invents borrowers and properties, establishes accounts for payments, and maintains custodial accounts for escrows. They may set up an office with a bank of telephones, each one used as the employer, appraiser, credit agency, etc., for verification purposes.
More Mortgage Fraud Resources
Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser – Contains information about how to protect yourself from being a victim of mortgage fraud and links to state law enforcement agencies that investigate mortgage fraud.
Financial Institution Fraud / Mortgage Fraud (FBI) – Explains common mortgage fraud schemes and investigative priorities of the agency and includes news relating to mortgage fraud.
Contact an Experienced Miami Mortgage Fraud Attorney
Whether you or a loved one has been arrested or is under investigation for Florida mortgage fraud, it is critical to consult with an experienced Miami mortgage fraud attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. You need the counsel of an experienced lawyer to guide you through the process and maximize your chances of resolving your case with a favorable outcome.
Over the years, we have represented hundreds of clients in a wide range of cases. There is a good chance that we have dealt with your type of case and have represented clients who shared similar needs and concerns that you may have. Feel free to browse through the results section of our site for a representative sample of some of our past cases and the results we have achieved for our clients.
By taking the immediate action of hiring an attorney to defend yourself, you are minimizing the chances that your criminal case will have lasting consequences for your career, personal life, and reputation.
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