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Federal government cracking down on mortgage fraud

Any Charlotte area resident who has ever purchased a home or property likely went through the process of taking out a mortgage. The process of obtaining a mortgage loan can be complex and there are numerous financial records that must be provided and individuals who play a role in the loan process including the borrower, mortgage lender, loan processor, loan officer and real estate appraiser. Each individual has an important role to fulfill in the mortgage lending process and each must also ensure the information they both provide and are provided with is accurate.

Since the fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008, the federal government has taken steps to pass legislation that aims to "improve enforcement of mortgage fraud, securities fraud and financial institution fraud." As a result, today the actions of borrowers and financial professionals who work within the mortgage lending industry are closely and sometimes unjustly scrutinized.

Harsh penalties, likely including prison time, may be a consequence of a conviction.  The United States Attorneys Office has massive law enforcement resources at its disposal from the IRS, Secret Service, FBI and others.  Even people have been involved only in a limited role on a few transactions have been targeted,  prosecuted and sentenced to jail.

If you have been contacted by law enforcement regarding improprieties in a property closing, retain experienced counsel before returning their call, even if they say that you are not under arrest and they only want to "clear some things up", "ask a few questions", "hear your side" etc.  Mortgage Fraud investigations are not for novices.  

In general, mortgage fraud relates to "some type of misrepresentation on mortgage documents," which is carried out with the intent of reaping financial gain. For example, a borrower may provide false tax statements showing an inflated income so he or she will qualify for a bigger or more favorable mortgage. In other cases, a real estate appraiser may inflate the actual value of a property to close a deal and enjoy a share of the related profits.

Whatever the case may be, if convicted of criminal charges related to mortgage fraud, an individual will likely face harsh penalties including hefty fines and possible time behind bars. It's important, therefore, that individuals who are facing these types of charges seek the advice and representation of a seasoned defense attorney who has successfully handled similar matters.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Mortgage Fraud," 2015

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