Federal Mortgage Fraud – 18 U.S.C § 1014
Mortgage and real estate fraud occur when someone provides false information on a loan application for the purposes of obtaining a house or money, or preventing foreclosure. Over the years, I’ve handled many of these cases, some of which involved the participation of bank employees. If someone is being investigated for mortgage or real estate fraud, they should hire an attorney as soon as possible; the sentences for these crimes are very serious because there is usually a significant amount of money involved. An attorney will be able to ensure that the correct information and the best mitigating evidence is provided to federal agents.
Over the course of the last decade, the federal government has become involved in prosecuting people for federal mortgage fraud. The reason that they are so involved is because mortgages and people’s homes and banks are all tied to the U.S. economy and if people are lying and causing huge losses to banks, this is something that the federal government feels they need to step in on and make sure that things are being one the right way so that things do not upset the economy like they did in 2008 with all the mortgage fraud that went on – banks losing millions of dollars.
Property value has been hit hard and mortgage fraud has become common. At Hedding Law Firm, we understand that sometimes good people get in situations that they need help getting out of. Our defense attorneys are here to help you if you have been charged with mortgage fraud or any other state or federal crime.
If you have knowingly and intentionally misrepresented information in the attempt to obtain a mortgage and the misrepresentation was relied upon the underwriter or mortgage lender, then you may be charged with mortgage fraud. Lying on a mortgage loan application may not seem like a big deal at the time, but it is a very big deal to Federal authorities and a serious violation (Title 18 United States Code 1014).
Mortgage fraud can carry a wide range of penalties depending on the value of the mortgage fraudulently obtained as well as the number of actual incidents involved. Some common types of mortgage fraud are: Intentionally providing false financial statements; lying about income (income fraud); providing false tax returns; overvaluing a property’s value (appraisal fraud); providing fake employment verification; manipulated credit scores/reports; stating that the property acquired is for residential purposes but in actuality is for investment purposes which gives lower interest rates (occupancy fraud); just to name a few.
In United States federal courts, mortgage fraud is prosecuted as wire fraud, real estate fraud, bank fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, and you may face a maximum of 30 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine. If you are facing mortgage fraud charges, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the fraud was done knowingly and intentionally. With the help of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney, there may be adequate defenses to use in your favor.
How Do Prosecutors Decide to File a Mortgage Fraud Case?
Federal prosecutors are not going to file every single federal mortgage fraud case. If somebody fudges a little bit on the information that they provide to get their home, it seems highly unlikely the feds are going to get involved in this type of a prosecution, especially if the person makes all their mortgage payments and doesn’t have any problems.
Where the big problems come in is where people are cheating on the information they are giving using straw buyers who are not really involved in living in the property and basically have the plan from the beginning to grab a bunch of money and walk away from a loan leaving the bank holding the bag.
These people are the ones the prosecutors are going to go after. They’re not really looking for the homeowner who can’t make their mortgage payments, who’s given a little bit of false information on their mortgage application. If they had that information, they would probably just kick the case down to the states and let the state government deal with the person who lied on their mortgage application and then couldn’t make their payments. But again, if you’re making your payments, there’s no reason for anybody to step in and get involved because you’re fulfilling your responsibilities to the bank.
Factors Determining Sentencing
One of the biggest factors when it comes to federal mortgage fraud and what you’re going to get as a sentence is the judge is going to look at the amount of loss you caused. If you cause a small amount of loss and you have no prior criminal record, you’re going to be in a pretty good position to argue for probation and very minimal custody time.
If on the other hand, you cause hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of loss and you can’t pay the money back, then you can be expected to get a large enhancement and do a significant amount of time in federal custody. So, really what they’re looking at is the damage that the person has caused and the amount of loss that they’ve caused.
If they can’t get the money back and the judges are going to punish the person accordingly and still order them to pay the money back knowing they probably won’t get it, but they’ve got to figure out some way to exact a punishment against somebody who is causing these huge dollar figures losses to banks and other entities.
Obviously, other factors that will influence a judge as far as sentencing goes in a federal mortgage fraud case have to do with what you did, how sophisticated the scheme was, how many people were involved and what your criminal record looks like in relation to this type of criminal activity.
If you’ve done this before or done something like this, obviously the judge is going to take that into account when punishing you. Another big thing I think the judge looks at is who the victim is and what the extent of the damages that you cause a victim. If it’s some sort of private person who has lost significant money and is now put in a horrible position, obviously the judge is going to take that into account. Even if it’s a big corporation or a big business that’s lost significant money – judges take that into account as well in deciding what a proper sentence is for somebody.
Contact a Federal Criminal Lawyer
So, your best bet if you’re looking at a big sentence in a federal mortgage fraud case is to get in front of an attorney who’s done these types of cases before, has some knowledge, who’s seen what happens in these cases and who can figure out what can be put forward on your behalf to try to get the best result.
Also, to try to turn the tide in your favor and to try to show the judge your side of the story, what you are all about so that you can get out of the federal justice system as soon as possible. Our defense lawyers have the federal knowledge and background that have given us unmatched credentials. We have a combined 75 years of experience and we have handled many cases involving mortgage fraud. We are knowledgeable about mortgage fraud laws.
The federal government is typically involved with sophisticated fraud-related crimes involving significant amounts of money, primarily because they are equipped with the resources and manpower necessary to investigate these crimes. Acts of forgery or fraud that involve multiple states or otherwise touch the federal government’s jurisdiction are almost guaranteed to be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted by federal agents. Since these types of crimes can cause the federal government to lose significant amounts of money, they have units designated specifically to the handling of these cases.
Contact the Hedding Law Firm to set up a free face to face consultation and we will lay out all your options and strive to get you the best results possible.