Mortgage fraud charges in Dallas, Texas are very serious. If convicted, you could be sentenced to several years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. It is a complicated crime that can be charged both at the state and federal level. If you have been charged or are being investigated for mortgage fraud, you should reach out to an experienced mortgage fraud attorney as soon as possible.
What is Mortgage Fraud in Dallas?
In general, an individual commits mortgage fraud in Dallas, Texas when he or she intentionally or knowingly makes a false or misleading statement to obtain property or credit, including a mortgage loan. Any party involved in the home buying process can commit mortgage fraud, including the mortgage broker, real estate agent, or buyer. Most cases of mortgage fraud involve misrepresenting facts to the lender.
Mortgage fraud is often charged in conjunction with other white-collar crimes, like identity theft and tax fraud.
Popular Mortgage Fraud Schemes in Dallas
There are several different schemes that individuals use to commit mortgage fraud. Below are some common methods.
- Straw Buyer. The borrower conceals their identity through the use of a nominee who permits the borrower to use his or her name and credit history to apply for a loan. Often the nominee receives some financial kickback.
- Stolen or Fictitious Identity. The borrower uses a fictitious or stolen identity on his or her loan application.
- Silent Second. The buyer of the property borrows the down payment from the seller in a non-disclosed second mortgage. The borrow conceals the second mortgage from the primary lender and leads the primary lender to believe the borrower has invested its own money.
- Inflated Appraisals. The appraiser, working together with the borrower, provides the lender with a misleading appraisal that inflates the value of the property.
- Foreclosure Scheme. The defendant targets a homeowner who is at risk to default on their loan or already has foreclosed on their home. The defendant convinces the homeowner that they can save their own home with a deed transfer and up-front fees. The defendant remortgages the house and keeps the up-front fees.
- Misrepresented Assets or Income. The borrower lies about his income or assets on his loan application to obtain a loan he would not have otherwise qualified for.
- Borrower buys multiple properties without informing banks of intention to purchase other properties.
Penalties for Mortgage Fraud in Texas
Texas law takes mortgage fraud charges very seriously because it can damage homeowners, businesses, and the economy. The crime may be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the monetary value of the mortgage. The greater the value of the mortgage, the harsher the penalty will be.
- If the amount of the mortgage is between $2,500 and $30,000, it will be a state jail felony punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the amount of the mortgage is between $30,000 and $150,000, it will be a third-degree felony punishable by two to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the amount of the mortgage is between $150,000 and $300,000, it will be a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the amount of the mortgage is $300,000 or more, it will be a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the mortgage fraud occurred across state lines, involved a federally insured bank, or involved a federal agency, including the Federal Housing Administration, it could be prosecuted in federal court. You may be prosecuted under federal bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, or conspiracy charges. A federal criminal conviction could result in a harsh prison sentence and hefty fines. A conviction for a single count of federal mortgage fraud could result in a fine of $1 million.
In addition to prison time and fines, the court may order you to pay restitution. A mortgage conviction could also affect your ability to get a job, maintain professional licenses, and it could strain relationships with family and friends.
Mortgage Fraud Defense
If you are being investigated or have been charged with mortgage fraud, you should immediately reach out to a criminal defense attorney. Having an expert attorney present a strong defense can have a huge impact on your case. Philip D. Ray is a knowledgeable Dallas attorney who will fight aggressively for the best outcome. Call the office of Philip D. Ray today at (469) 588-6770 to schedule a consultation.