There are many different forms of mortgage fraud. Falsifying statements, applications, or reports in order to obtain a larger loan or a better rate is the simplest form. False statements can include claiming intent to occupy an investment property, overstating your income, exaggerating or blatantly lying about employment, or failing to disclose existing liabilities. Any of these statements clearly deceive the lender about the chance for repayment of debt, and resulted in many defaults during the financial crisis of the mid-2000’s. There are other mortgage fraud schemes that may be considered more damaging and may draw the attention of the United States Attorney’s Office. Various fraud-for-profit schemes, including mortgaging the same property numerous times, are used to defraud lenders out of large sums of money.
If convicted of this white collar crime, like many other forms of fraud, the sentence will be tied to the amount of money involved in the case, called the loss amount. The maximum sentence for mortgage fraud can be up to thirty years in prison for one count alone. Despite that, there are a number of charges like wire and mail fraud that can be brought in addition to mortgage fraud.
18 U.S. Code § 1014 is the statute that criminalizes making any false statement or report, or willfully overvaluing any land, property or security. It specifies fines of not more than $1,000,000 or imprisonment for not more than 30 years, or both.
A criminal attorney, like Tim Bower Rodriguez, may be able to help you get acquitted or minimize the sentence, depending on the facts of the case. Mortgage fraud situations are not as black and white as federal agents and prosecutors would like to make them sound.
One common example is where mortgage applicants are asked about income, assets and other financial factors by an intake mortgage loan officer and the information is inputted into a system. The loan officer is human and makes mistakes and may input the information incorrectly. A government employee reviewing the information many years later and with an eye aimed more towards getting through the stack of files piled up on his desk and not necessarily towards accuracy or fairness, sees the error and automatically assumes that the mortgage applicant knowingly lied on the application. By this point the original loan officer no longer works at the same bank and regardless has no memory about this specific transaction many years later.
Tim Bower Rodriguez, an attorney who specializes in federal cases such as mortgage fraud, knows from his experience to look for this type of defense and will take the time to ask his clients questions like this and others in order to prepare the best possible legal defense strategy for your case.