Protecting Your Interests in Mortgage Fraud Cases
Mortgage fraud is a crime that consists of some type of intentional material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission regarding a mortgage loan that is relied upon by a lender to make a decision. The two distinct types of mortgage fraud are fraud for profit and fraud to obtain housing. If you are facing a criminal charge of mortgage fraud or loan fraud, you are looking at serious penalties if convicted. You need a skilled mortgage fraud defense attorney to defend you.
One of the lasting consequences of the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-08 is the tendency for prosecutors to see mortgage fraud schemes and find criminal scapegoats wherever they can. If you have been charged with mortgage fraud in New Jersey, you need the help of a qualified and experienced white-collar crime criminal defense attorney. The defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall represent clients across New Jersey accused of fraud related to a single real estate transaction or a pattern of doing business.
Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall for the skilled legal assistance sought by many New Jersey residents and businessmen accused of white-collar crimes. Engage a criminal defense law firm that offers the following credentials:
- 10 defense lawyers in offices across New Jersey dedicated solely to representing individuals facing criminal charges
- More than 200 years of combined experience in courtrooms across New Jersey
- Extensive experience with white-collar crime and federal cases that have allowed us to develop professional relationships in U.S. District Courts in Trenton, Camden, and Newark, N.J.
- Certified criminal trial attorneys, a recognition of specialized knowledge in an area of law conferred by the New Jersey Supreme Court and held by less than 2% of New Jersey lawyers
- A team of former public defenders and prosecutors from across New Jersey who have led a Major Crimes Bureau, Guns Task Force, Special Operations Unit and Domestic Violence Unit, as well as an entire Trial Division
- A track record of countless trials ending in dismissal of criminal charges against our clients.
Business deals and relationships are often complex, and it is easy for those who are not involved to misunderstand or misinterpret the facts. Charges of mortgage fraud or loan fraud often fall apart when an experienced legal defense team examines the evidence underlying the charge. As your attorneys, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can act quickly and decisively to gather evidence refuting the fraud charges and defend your legal rights.
Mortgage Fraud Charges You May Face
The two primary areas of mortgage fraud charges are:
- Fraud for profit. This is usually a charge against real estate industry insiders such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, or loan originators alleging the use of specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate loan fraud. An actual fraud-for-profit scheme attempts to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash and equity from lenders or homeowners. Appraisal fraud – appraising real property at an amount greater than its actual value to secure a larger loan – is an example of mortgage fraud for profit.
- Fraud for housing. This type of criminal charge alleges illegal actions taken by a borrower motivated to acquire or maintain ownership of a house. An indictment may charge that a borrower misrepresented income and asset information on a loan application or enticed an appraiser to manipulate a property’s appraised value.
Types of Mortgage Fraud Schemes
Actual loan and mortgage fraud can take many forms. Specific schemes likely to be alleged in a mortgage fraud indictment include:
- Serving as a “straw buyer” in a mortgage flipping or churning scheme
- Providing false or inflated appraisals of property value
- Engaging in “predatory” lending practices
- Violation of state or federal disclosure requirements by real estate brokers, mortgage lenders, or closing agents
- Making false statements on title insurance or mortgage insurance applications
- Making false statements on the mortgage loan or refinancing applications.
- Manipulating the appraised value of a distressed property or creating bogus leases to exaggerate a building’s profitability to obtain loan financing.
There are numerous federal criminal statutes that may be applied for mortgage fraud charges.
The FBI prioritizes fraud-for-profit cases, which typically involve the real estate industry and financial institutions. Federal criminal laws often apply when the alleged activity involves federal agencies, such as the Federal Housing Administration, or mortgage lenders, and other federally regulated financial institutions or the allegedly fraudulent activity crosses state lines, such as when a New Jersey resident deals with a New York lender.
A complex case uncovering an actual mortgage fraud scheme will typically result in federal crime charges after a long-term investigation. Dozens of individuals may be named in a single indictment. A major fraud often involves federal conspiracy charges of conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud.
Penalties for Mortgage Fraud
A conviction of a federal mortgage fraud charge may be punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison or a $1 million fine, or both. As a state charge, mortgage fraud is more likely punished by up to a year in prison and a fine that may range from a few thousand dollars in misdemeanor cases to over $100,000 in felony cases. The courts are also likely to require restitution to the injured party.
Real estate professionals including agents, appraisers, lenders, and real estate closing attorneys are also likely to face discipline by a state licensing board such as the New Jersey Real Estate Commission (REC). Disciplinary action against an individual convicted of mortgage fraud or loan fraud may include suspension or revocation of a professional license.
New Jersey Mortgage Fraud Defense Lawyers
If you know you are being investigated for mortgage fraud and act promptly to engage our experienced New Jersey white collar crime defense attorneys before being formally charged, we may be able to negotiate a resolution of the issue before an indictment is handed down and made public.
Once an indictment for mortgage fraud has been handed down, the prosecution must prove each element of the alleged crime to obtain a conviction. This includes proving intent to defraud. Mortgage fraud only occurs when a borrower or a professional knowingly makes misrepresentations or omissions. Honest mistakes are not crimes.
In complex cases alleging a fraud scheme, our experience with the defense of white-collar criminal charges and our knowledge of the law can help turn the complexity of the government’s case to your advantage. The more moving parts there are in the government’s case, the more likely it is that the chain of evidence needed to get a conviction has weaknesses or missing links.
As required by the complexity of your case, we will investigate by:
- Interviewing eyewitnesses, underwriters, bank managers, appraisers, and others
- Tracing key documents, which when brought together may provide critical evidence, such as:
- Loan applications
- Verifications of employment
- Verifications of loans
- Verifications of deposit
- IRS Form 4506 (authorizing the release of tax returns for income verification)
- HUD-1 Forms (issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development)
- Mortgage documents and deeds, including warranty and quitclaim deeds
- Title opinions, which examine public records, laws and court decisions to confirm that the seller has a valid claim to the property
- Public filings, public statements, rating agency reports, company financials, and e-mails and other correspondence
- Hiring forensic accounting experts and/or forensic appraisal experts for assistance with our analysis of the government’s case and to provide expert testimony, if necessary.
We will work to find and exploit weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and gather evidence in your favor, whatever it might be:
- Lack of proof of the requisite intent to defraud
- Credibility problems with a key government witness
- Lack of authority on the part of another to turn important documentation over to the government
- Absence of explicit directives from corporate leaders that promoted fraud, indicating an employee or employees acted individually
- Proof of a comprehensive compliance program, including employee compliance training, indicating corporate intent
Our essential job in a mortgage fraud case is to protect and expand your options until the charges can be refuted or a satisfactory resolution can be negotiated with the government. One option is to seek a bill of particulars, which outlines the government’s case. This limits the government’s ability to introduce an evolving theory of the alleged crime at trial while allowing us to argue variations on the story the prosecution has put forward.
Our defense strategy will be dictated by the facts of the case, the evidence against you, and our ability to attack the most damaging aspects of the government’s case.
We can begin investigating the charges against you and the evidence available in your case immediately upon being engaged as your legal counsel.
If there has been wrongdoing, we will use evidence in your favor to explore a reduction in charges and punishment in exchange for your cooperation, if that is possible, and in your best interest. We will make sure you are always advised of any offers from prosecutors and of the pros and cons of each option. This decision is always the client’s, and we are always prepared to fight charges in court.
Contact Our New Jersey Mortgage Fraud Defense Lawyers Today
At the first sign that you are under investigation for mortgage fraud, you need to engage a law firm experienced with handling charges of white-collar crimes to protect your rights. The New Jersey mortgage fraud defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have decades of experience, as well as the skills and resources necessary to protect your rights and see your case through to the best possible conclusion available to you.
Schedule a free consultation with our respected New Jersey mortgage fraud defense attorneys now.