Mortgage fraud is considered a white-collar crime in which a borrow or other industry professional materially misstates, omits, or misrepresents information relating to the potential mortgage or property that is relied upon by a lender or underwriter to purchase, fund, or insure a loan. People commit mortgage fraud for a variety of reasons, typically for either housing or for profit. The penalties for a mortgage fraud conviction can include significant fines and spending years in prison. If you have been convicted of mortgage fraud, it is crucial that you retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Philadelphia mortgage fraud attorney Lloyd Long, Esq. discusses different types of mortgage fraud in Pennsylvania and ways to avoid conviction.
Mortgage Fraud for Housing
As previously stated, mortgage fraud usually falls under one of the following categories:
- Fraud for housing
- Fraud for profit
Fraud for housing is most commonly committed by a borrow making a misrepresentation regarding information about personal debt, income, and/or property value. Fraud for profit usually involves more people and more complex operations than fraud for housing. Some common types of mortgage fraud include:
- Straw buyer scams – Straw buyer scams occur when the “straw buyer” makes a purchase on behalf of another person who would otherwise be legally barred from making the purchase themselves. A straw buyer will appear to be a real buyer with a name, credit history and social security number. In actuality, this “straw borrower” is used as a ruse used to cover up the identity of criminals.
- Property flipping – Property flipping can be easily overlooked because “house flipping” has become a popular source of income for many people in recent years. It is a process by which a person buys a home and resells it at a higher price shortly after. The practice of property flipping becomes illegal when a person purchases a home and a short time later sells it at an unreasonably high price. Fraud takes place when a fraudulent appraisal is given. A person reselling a house may make fraudulent claims about renovations that were made by either exaggerating about the improvements or saying there were renovations when there weren’t any.
- Occupancy scams – Occupancy scams occur when buyers represent that they intent to live in a home when in fact they already have plans to rent it out. People engage in occupancy scams because saying that a home will be your principal residence can save a substantial amount of interest costs each month. Thus, your profit will be increased.
- Stolen identity – Sometimes a person will use someone else’s personal information and identity to apply for a mortgage. In the same fashion, a person may generate a new, fictitious identity by using forged documentation.
Pennsylvania Penalties for Mortgage Fraud
The facts and circumstances surrounding your case will dictate what crimes you are charged with that involve mortgage fraud. Upon conviction of mortgage fraud in Pennsylvania, penalties you may sustain include:
- Third degree misdemeanor – fines up to $2,500 and up to 1 year incarceration
- Second degree misdemeanor – fines up to $5,000 and up to 2 years incarceration
- First degree misdemeanor – fines up to $10,000 and up to 5 years incarceration
- Third degree felony – fines up to $15,000 and up to 7 years incarceration
- Second degree felony – fines up to $25,000 and up to 10 years incarceration
- First degree felony – fines up to $25,000 and up to 20 years incarceration
If a person receives a federal conviction for mortgage fraud, it is possible to receive a penalty of 30 years of incarceration and up to $1 million in fines.
Defenses to Mortgage Fraud Charges
Being charged with mortgage fraud is a very serious offense that can result in decades of jail time and thousands of dollars owed in fines. It is imperative that if you are charged with mortgage fraud that you contact a skilled Philadelphia white collar defense lawyer to represent you. Some of the most common defenses to this type of crime include:
- Lack of criminal intent
- Unlawful search and seizure
- Mistaken identity
- Lack of evidence
Philadelphia Mortgage Fraud Attorney
If you or someone you love has been charged with mortgage fraud, do not wait any longer to contact an attorney. To ensure that your legal rights are protected, contact a Philadelphia mortgage fraud attorney at the Law Office of Lloyd Long. Lloyd Long, Esq. provides aggressive legal representation to clients who are facing potentially serious penalties if convicted of mortgage fraud. The legal team at the Law Office of Lloyd Long has the skill, experience, and knowledge of Pennsylvania justice system to develop a strong defense strategy to fight on your behalf. Contact us today for a free schedule a free consultation.