Mortgage fraud is something that is on the upward trend – albeit, not always intentional. According to the CoreLogic Mortgage Fraud Report, in just the second quarter of 2017, over 13K mortgage applications have fraud indicators and this is up almost 17% from 2016’s second quarter. Occupancy fraud risk (misrepresenting the use of the property such as primary residence) was up 7%, transaction fraud risk (falsified down payments, etc) was up almost 4%, and income fraud risk was up 3.5%, which is misrepresenting the qualifying income. It seems that mortgage fraud, whether intentional or by not knowing the rules, is rising each quarter.
Mortgage fraud falls into two categories – fraud for housing and fraud for profit and can happen in a number of ways such as:
- Someone claims that their assets are more than they really are
- An applicant does not claim a primary residence they already have or a secondary residence
- An applicant claims they make more income than they really do
- Underwriting decisions that are questionable
- Undisclosed real estate debt
- Giving misinformation on renters
- Fraud with foreclosure
- Real estate investment fraud
- Foreclosure rescue, loan modification schemes, and property flipping
The problem is that every act of mortgage fraud is not intentional. For instance, a family finds the perfect house that they qualify for if only they make a few thousands of dollars more each year. Sometimes the numbers are fudged a little and what some people do not realize is that this is a case of fraud and is punishable as a crime. In fact, mortgage fraud is a federal crime. However, there is no specific agency that investigates this kind of activity so a person can get “caught” by the IRS, FBI, and state consumer protection agencies.
Individuals who are the buyers are not the only ones who can get caught up in a mortgage fraud accusation. Business people are at risk and the charges can be compounded if it they really want to go after you. You can be charged with mail fraud for using the post office for mail conducted during the fraud, obstruction of justice if you destroy any paperwork, and wire fraud if you’ve used a fax machine or the Internet.
What is the Punishment for Mortgage Fraud?
In some cases, mortgage fraud is considered a felony and can involve jail time. At the very least, without a sound representation, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and/or heavy fines and restitution.
Get the Best Defense Possible
As you can see, mortgage fraud is a serious accusation and it is imperative to get the help you need to get your charges reduced or dropped altogether. In many cases, someone may not even know that what they did is a crime but most of us know that ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse and will get your nowhere. In order to get representation that can actually help you, you need an attorney that has experience, compassion, and a background in this kind of law.
If you or someone you love has been accused of mortgage fraud, you need to best defense possible so that the charges may be reduced or even dropped in some cases. It is important to get your defense started as soon as possible so contact us if you are dealing with charges of mortgage fraud so we can help you. Speas Law Firm has over 20 years of experience with dealing with criminal defense throughout Minneapolis, St. Paul, the Twin Cities metro, and all throughout Minnesota.
Mortgage fraud is something you probably haven’t ever thought much about but if you are accused of this, you need a Minnesota mortgage fraud lawyer to help you.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.