As a mortgage fraud defense lawyer, our focus is on providing legal representation in the complex area of mortgage fraud. In Texas’s dynamic real estate market, facing allegations of mortgage fraud demands a deep understanding of real estate law and a strategic defense approach.
Our legal team can navigate these intricate cases, offering tailored defense strategies for real estate professionals, lenders, and borrowers. Our Texas real estate license defense lawyers meticulously analyze each case, challenge inaccuracies, and protect our clients’ rights, aiming for the best possible outcomes with professionalism and commitment to justice.
Types of Mortgage Fraud in Texas
Mortgage fraud in Texas encompasses a range of illegal activities, each with its own complexities and implications. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) highlight several common schemes that are frequently encountered in mortgage fraud cases.
Understanding these regulatory allegations (which can also expose someone to white-collar criminal accusations) is crucial for professionals in the real estate sector and individuals navigating the mortgage process.
- Air loans: This type of fraud involves obtaining mortgages using fictitious borrowers and non-existent properties. The offenders create an illusion of legitimate transactions to secure loans illegally.
- Chunking: In this scenario, offenders purchase multiple properties simultaneously without informing banks of their intention to acquire other properties. This lack of transparency in the purchasing process is a key element of the fraud.
- Equity skimming: This scheme typically occurs when a homeowner is in or facing foreclosure. The offender takes title to the home, refinances the property, and extracts all the equity, leaving the original homeowner with a second mortgage and no equity.
- Identity theft: A critical component of many mortgage fraud cases, this involves using a fictitious or stolen identity on mortgage loan applications to obtain funds illicitly.
- Inflated appraisals: Here, appraisers may collude with borrowers or unwittingly provide inaccurate property values to lenders, often resulting in loans that far exceed the actual value of the property.
- Misrepresented assets or income: Offenders may falsify their income or assets to meet the qualifications for a mortgage loan, thereby deceiving lenders into granting loans under false pretenses.
- Occupancy fraud: This type of fraud involves taking out a loan on behalf of someone who would not qualify for the mortgage, often using misleading information about the intended occupancy of the property.
- Straw buyers: In this scheme, an offender uses another person’s name and credit history to apply for a mortgage loan, often without the knowledge or consent of the person whose identity is being used.
Each of these strategies represents a unique challenge in the area of mortgage fraud defense. Our Texas professional license defense lawyers are committed to unraveling these complex scenarios and providing robust defense strategies for those accused of participating in such schemes.
Penalties for Mortgage Fraud in Texas
Mortgage fraud is a serious regulatory accusation and typically can result in regulatory actions where the state agency may seek to suspend or revoke your license and impose a significant administrative penalty. It can also often result in criminal accusations. Under the Texas Penal Code offense with penalties that vary significantly based on the value of the property involved.
Under Texas Penal Code § 32.32, it is illegal to use a false statement to obtain property or credit or in the provision of certain services. The severity of the punishment for mortgage fraud is directly tied to the value of the property or credit obtained through fraudulent means.
For example, if the value of the property involved in the fraud is between $30,000 and $150,000, the offense is classified as a third-degree felony. This can result in a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine not exceeding $10,000. In more severe cases, where the value of the property is $300,000 or more, the charge escalates to a first-degree felony.
A conviction for a first-degree felony in mortgage fraud can lead to a minimum of five years and up to 99 years in prison, along with a fine of up to $10,000.
Given the potential for cross-pollination between regulatory actions and criminal accusations and the gravity of these penalties, it is crucial for any real estate broker, agent appraiser, mortgage originator, escrow officer, title company, appraisal management company or lender accused of mortgage fraud to seek experienced legal representation.
Many individuals accused of mortgage fraud by their state regulator may not have had bad intent and could be facing parallel proceedings with law enforcement and criminal prosecutors due to misunderstandings or mismanagement.
A knowledgeable mortgage fraud defense attorney can provide crucial guidance and representation before your state regulator, helping you understand the legal system and equip you with the best possible defense before your licensing agency.
Texas Mortgage Fraud Lawyer Near Me (512) 476-5757
What to Do If You Are Charged With Mortgage Fraud
Being charged with mortgage fraud can be an intimidating and involved situation. It’s crucial to take immediate and appropriate steps to protect your rights and interests.
The following are things you can do if you are facing mortgage fraud charges:
- Remain calm and composed: First and foremost, remain calm. A charge is not a finding of wrongdoing, and you have legal rights that can be exercised to defend yourself.
- Understand the charges: Get a clear understanding of the charges against you. Mortgage fraud can encompass various activities, so it’s important to know what you’re being accused of.
- Exercise your right to remain silent: Remember your right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. Politely decline to discuss any details of the case without an attorney present.
- Hire an attorney: Seek legal representation immediately. It’s crucial to have a defense lawyer with experience in mortgage fraud and who understands real estate law and license defense and the connection these cases often have to criminal charges. Bertolino LLP can guide you through the legal process and help you build a strong defense.
- Do not interfere with the investigation: Avoid discussing the case with anyone other than your attorney, especially on social media or in digital communications. Do not attempt to contact any witnesses or interfere with the investigation, as this can worsen your situation.
- Gather documentation: Start gathering any relevant documents, such as mortgage applications, correspondence, financial records, and any other paperwork that might be pertinent to your case. These documents can be crucial in building your defense.
- Understand the legal process: Familiarize yourself with the legal process. Your attorney can explain the steps involved in a regulatory complaint, from beginning to end, and what you can expect at each stage.
- Discuss defense strategies: Work closely with your attorney to discuss potential defense strategies. Depending on the specifics of your case, defenses might include a lack of intent to commit fraud, errors in the mortgage process, or challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution.
- Prepare for financial implications: Be prepared for the financial implications of your legal defense. Discuss fees with your attorney and plan accordingly.
- Stay informed and involved: Stay informed about your case and involved in the decision-making process. Your input and understanding are vital for an effective defense.
- Consider the impact on your professional license: If you hold a professional license, consider the potential impact of a mortgage fraud criminal charge or conviction could have on your license. Discuss any necessary steps to address this aspect with your attorney.
- Plan for court appearances: Be prepared for court appearances. Dress appropriately, be punctual, and follow your attorney’s advice on courtroom etiquette and behavior.
Remember, every legal case is unique, and the best course of action depends on the specific circumstances of your case. Your attorney will provide tailored advice and representation based on the details of your situation.
Contact a Lawyer for Your Mortgage Fraud Defense
Mortgage fraud cases require skilled legal counsel, well-versed in the nuances and precedents of regulatory license defense and the frequent connection these types of cases have to white-collar criminal law. These cases often involve intricate details and require a sophisticated approach to defense. By entrusting your case to experienced professionals who are adept at handling such intricate matters, you ensure that your defense is solid and strategically sound.
From exploring avenues for appeal or settlement agreements and plea bargains to presenting comprehensive information to strengthen your case, your legal counsel is your ally in navigating the legal system.
At Bertolino LLP, we understand the gravity of mortgage fraud allegations and the impact they can have on your life and career. Our mortgage fraud defense attorneys are committed to providing you with the guidance and representation you need to get you through these challenging circumstances. If you’re facing mortgage fraud accusations from your regulator, don’t hesitate to contact us today.