Mortgage fraud is an increasingly common financial crime, and as a result, more and more people are talking about it. Mortgage fraud is a serious crime and is often difficult to detect. A financial crime attorney can help you understand the basics of mortgage fraud, what it can look like, and what to do if you’ve been charged with it.
Ask a Financial Crime Attorney: What Is Mortgage Fraud?
Mortgage fraud is a term used to describe any fraudulent activity that involves the use of mortgage loans or other types of real estate financing. In many cases, this type of crime occurs when someone uses false information about their income in order to qualify for a loan or refinance an existing property. Mortgage fraud can also include illegally inflating appraisals, falsifying income statements, and lying on loan applications.
It’s worth noting that mortgage fraud isn’t always intentional. It’s estimated that up to 10% of mortgage applications in the United States contain mistaken or omitted information, unintentional or otherwise.
2 Categories of Mortgage Fraud
Mortgage fraud is commonly broken into two categories:
Fraud for Profit
Fraud for profit is the most common type of mortgage fraud. It occurs when someone uses false information to get a loan or refinance an existing property so they can make money off it later by selling the property at an inflated price (or before). This category includes appraisals that are inflated and income statements that are falsified in order
Fraud for Property
This type of fraud happens when someone uses a loan to purchase a property that they can’t afford. They may do this by lying on the loan application, or by obtaining a loan for more money than the property is worth.
8 Steps to Take if You’re Charged With Mortgage Fraud
1. Seek Legal Counsel Immediately
If you’re charged with mortgage fraud, the first step is to seek legal counsel. This goes for whether you are innocent or not! Experienced mortgage fraud attorneys in Houston can help you understand the charges against you and develop a defense strategy.
2. Don’t Talk to the Police or Officials Without Your Lawyer Present
Anything you say to the police can and will be used against you in court. So, even if you think you’re innocent, it’s important to keep quiet until you have a chance to speak with an attorney.
3. Cooperate With Your Lawyer
Your lawyer will need your full cooperation in order to build a strong defense. This means answering all of their questions honestly and providing any documentation or evidence they request.
4. Get to Know the Prosecutor
It’s a good idea to get to know the prosecutor assigned to your case. This person will be in charge of trying to convict you, so it’s helpful to know their background and motives.
5. Beware of Overzealous Prosecutors
While most prosecutors are fair and unbiased, some may be overzealous in their efforts to win a case. This can lead to unethical behavior on their part, so it’s important to have an attorney who is prepared for this type of attack.
6. Keep an Open Mind
Don’t be afraid to consider all of your legal options, even if they seem unfavorable at first. The best defense strategy may not be what you expect, so it’s important to remain flexible and open-minded.
7. Don’t Try to Represent Yourself
Mortgage fraud is a complex crime, and trying to represent yourself in court is rarely a good idea. An experienced attorney will have the knowledge and resources necessary to give you the best chance of winning your case.
8. Be Prepared for Trial
While it’s possible that your case could be resolved before going to trial, you should always be prepared. An experienced attorney will help you get ready so that nothing catches you off guard when the time comes.
4 Common Defenses Against Mortgage Fraud Charges
1. Lack of Intent
One of the most common defenses against mortgage fraud charges is lack of intent. You may have made a mistake on your application or loan agreement, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you intended to commit fraud. In other words, you weren’t intending on committing a crime when you signed your loan documents or made any false statements.
2. Lack of Knowledge
You may not have intentionally committed fraud, but that doesn’t mean you knew what was happening. In other words, you were unaware of any fraud being perpetrated against the lender.
3. Lack of Harm
You may not have committed fraud, but that doesn’t mean you caused the lender any harm. In other words, if there’s no evidence that they suffered a loss as a result of your actions then they can’t prove their case in court.
4. Lack of Liability
You may not have committed fraud, but that doesn’t mean you are liable for the lender’s loss. In other words, even if you did commit fraud, it’s possible that you’re not responsible for paying back the money that was lost.
Mortgage fraud is a serious crime that can result in fines and jail time. If you’ve been charged with mortgage fraud, contact an attorney to get started with your defense!
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