Along with the acceleration of foreclosures in the rapidly falling real estate market comes the inevitable increase in Mortgage Fraud Indictments by Federal Grand Juries in Texas and other Federal Districts throughout the United States.
Federal Mortgage Fraud ranges from deliberate overstatement of income by borrowers in order to qualify for larger mortgage loans, to complex schemes by multiple parties to defraud lenders of large amounts of cash. These indictments involve borrowers, lenders, appraisers, real estate brokers, loan brokers, bankers, and, yes, even attorneys.
Mortgage Fraud Rings will use a “straw borrower” with a good credit report together with an appraiser to overstate the value of the mortgaged property, along with a participating property owner and a dishonest attorney to prepare duplicate sets of HUD closing documents. Some of these complex white collar frauds can go on for a number of years and involve many different parties. For example, a recent case in California has resulted in a guilty plea by a mortgage company loan officer to lying under oath to a Federal Grand Jury in connection with a mortgage fraud investigation extending from 2001 to 2006. In that case, the loan officer had lied about taking over $100,000 from a mortgage broker to process fraudulent loan applications referred by the broker.
Some Federal Districts have been prosecuting cases involving multiple loans taken out by a buyer or buyers for the same house at the same time. After funding, the buyer often leaves the country with the money. This practice is often referred to as “Shotgunnning”.
“Cash Back” schemes are another method of mortgage fraud where a buyer and seller or buyer and real estate agent conspire to deceive the lender as to the sale price of the mortgaged property, and then the buyer gets a cash kickback which of course is not disclosed to the lender.
Federal Mortgage Fraud cases can also involve failure to disclose liabilities and overstatement of income by mortgage applicants. These type cases can insnare the unwary applicant who might lack any criminal intent, but who might find himself the subject of a Federal Indictment because of a “puffed up” financial statement or a sloppy or inflated Mortgage application.
All of the Federal Judicial Districts in Texas have a number of these cases on their dockets, and the FBI is busily investigating many others. They are expensive to defend, and must have proper investigation and preparation by competent white-collar defense attorneys skilled and experienced in these areas. As is the case with all white-collar cases, a good lawyer should be contacted as soon as an individual thinks he or she may be a target of such an investigation.