The Basics of Mortgage Fraud Crimes in St. Petersburg / Tampa Florida
What is Mortgage Fraud?No single law exists that makes it a crime to participate in mortgage and/or real estate fraud, so Federal and State Prosecutors throughout the State of Florida use a variety of other statutes, including mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and bank fraud statutes to prosecute individuals who have allegedly participated in these schemes and/or criminal acts.
What are the types of Mortgage Fraud?Mortgage fraud and/or real estate fraud is not defined per se; however, common types of mortgage and/or real estate fraud schemes in the State of Florida usually fall into one or more of the following areas:
oNominee loans/straw buyers
oFalse and/or misrepresented loan documentation
oUsing false or stolen identity
About Illegal Property FlippingProperty flipping is a common scheme in Florida, occurring when a buyer or group of investors quickly purchase a property and obtain a falsely inflated appraisal value for the property, prior to quickly selling the property for a significant profit. Although it is important to note that not all "property flipping" scenarios in Florida are white collar crime or illegal, the scenario becomes illegal when fraudulent appraisal documentation is presented. Typically, this scheme involves kickbacks to title companies, investors, brokers, and appraisers.
About Illegal Equity SkimmingAn investor in Florida may use a straw buyer, false income documents, and false credit reports to obtain a mortgage loan in the straw buyer's name. Subsequent to closing, the straw buyer signs the property over to the investor in a quit claim deed which relinquishes all rights to the property and provides no guaranty to title. The investor does not make any mortgage payments and rents the property until foreclosure takes place several months later.
What to do next?You have a very narrow window of time between when an investigation begins or when you are arrested and when the federal prosecutor or state prosecutor makes a decision to file formal charges against you. Contact an experienced St. Petesburg criminal defense attorney to discuss your white collar criminal investigation involving mortgage fraud and/or real estate fraud. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help negotiate on your behalf with the state prosecutor or federal prosecutor before any charges are filed.