Federal Mortgage Fraud Defense Lawyer
After the 2008 mortgage crisis, federal authorities have taken a much different approach when reviewing mortgage loans in an attempt to make sure businesses or individuals are not being defrauded and in the interest of economic stability. Federal loan fraud is a serious charge and you need to act immediately.
The federal government is involved in numerous mortgages throughout the United States through the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans.
Their direct lending involvement means mortgage and loan fraud cases can be filed as either a California state or federal crime. In simple terms, if you have been accused of lying or making false statements in order to obtain a mortgage or loan, you could find yourself facing criminal charges. If you are under investigation or already charged with loan fraud, the federal criminal defense lawyers at Eisner Gorin LLP can thoroughly review the details of your case and go over your legal options.
Recently, there has been a rise in real estate fraud. Consequently, the federal government has begun actively investigating and prosecuting alleged real estate and mortgage fraud schemes involving investors, brokers and straw buyers.
Because the consequences of conviction are so severe, it is important that you hire an experienced and knowledgeable federal criminal defense attorney who can provide you with proper representation in mortgage fraud or real estate fraud cases. At Eisner Gorin LLP, our attorneys have over 50 years combined experience in criminal defense and will help to provide you the best defense available.
Mortgage fraud as defined involves a number of schemes to defraud a federally insured lending institution (a bank). There are various mortgage fraud schemes, ranging from silent second schemes and foreclosure schemes to schemes involving inflated appraisals and air loans. Most mortgage fraud or real estate fraud cases involve one of the following:
- Nominee/straw buyer loans to purchase property: A straw buyer is used to purchase property for an investor who may not otherwise have qualified for the loan due to multiple other property loans. While the investor had the intention to resell the property within months for profit, the sudden drop in the market causes the investor to default and get caught in the property flipping scheme. While the property flipping scheme had legitimate and legal intentions, the investor faces fraud charges for the deception used to purchase the real estate.
- Inflated appraisals: Straw buyers are used to purchase property on behalf of an investor. The property is sold and repurchased several times, each time at a higher price through the use of corrupt appraisers, title companies, and other individuals. Proceeds are often pocketed by the investor, appraiser, broker or other interested party.
A mortgage fraud offense occurs if you make a misrepresentation or omission to the lender in order to obtain a loan or get better loan terms. Additionally, it also involves willful lying or deceit to a homeowner, buyer, or seller with the intent of financial gain or to obtain a property. A mortgage fraud case actually covers a wide-range of unlawful activity, such as mortgage fraud, rent skimming, obtaining deeds to real estate fraudulently, and even foreclosure fraud.
A common example of mortgage fraud includes a situation where someone lies on their mortgage application by stating they earn much more money than they actually earn and even present false pay stubs from their employer so they can get a lower interest rate.
Federal Loan Fraud Charges
Readers will note that the majority of the statute's text is dedicated to enumerating certain public and private entities to which the statute applies. Regardless of which agency is in question, 18 U.S.C. § 1014 criminalizes the behavior of knowingly making a false statement to one of the enumerated agencies for the purpose of attempting to influence that agency's decision making.
For example, suppose one were to apply for a loan from an “agricultural credit association,” and, in so doing, make knowingly false statements about one's monthly income and the value of one's assets. These statements could form the basis of a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 1014.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will investigate accusations of bank fraud and mortgage fraud. In many cases, crimes of financial institution fraud is often involve an employee of the bank or a lender perpetrated against a actual customer. It can entail embezzlement and identity theft. Mortgage fraud normally involves individual seeking a profit.
Common offenses our federal loan fraud lawyers handle include foreclosure rescue schemes, fraudulently obtained home equity conversion mortgages, fraudulent commercial real estate loans, loan modification schemes, equity skimming, unlawful property flipping, and silent second mortgages.
If you are facing allegations of mortgage fraud, you could be criminally charged with a wide variety of federal offenses, including the following:
- 18 U.S. Code § 1343 – Wire Fraud
- 18 U.S. Code § 1344 – Bank Fraud
- 18 U.S. Code § 1956 – Money Laundering
- 18 U.S. Code § 371 – Conspiracy
- 18 U.S. Code § 1001 – Submitting False Statements
- 18 U.S. Code § 1014 – False Loan or Credit Application to Federal Agency
A conviction for 18 U.S.C. § 1014 may be punished by a maximum sentence of 30 years incarceration in federal prison, a $1,000,000 fine, or both.
Defenses for Federal Loan Fraud Charges
- The statement was not false – Truth is always a defense given the statute's requirement that a false statement be made.
- The statement was false, but not knowingly false – If your attorney can show that you were simply mistaken, or did not intend to convey false information, you cannot be convicted of 18 U.S.C. §1014.
- The statement was made to an individual or entity outside of the statute's coverage – Note the long list of institutions contained in §1014's text. That list is extensive, but not comprehensive. It may be that the allegedly false statement for which you are being charged was made to an entity not covered by the provisions of the statute.
These defenses are all fact-specific and may or may not apply in a given case. Consult with your attorney about the best possible way to defend yourself based on the specific circumstances of your case.
Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer
Mortgage fraud charges are very serious. Defendants may be prosecuted not only on the actual loss caused by the mortgage fraud scheme, but also on the intended loss. While prosecutors will try to use every tactic available to inflate the intended loss in federal mortgage fraud cases.
At Eisner Gorin LLP, we have the experience and knowledge to effectively challenge the valuations and minimize the intended loss, thus reducing the potential consequences you may face. Call our law firm at 877-781-1570 or email us using contact form.