For many South Carolina residents, the purchase of a home will be their biggest financial expenditure. This purchase is usually paid off over many years through a mortgage or similar financial instrument. Unfortunately, nationwide efforts to crack down on fraud involving real estate have led to especially harsh prosecution of individuals accused of this type of crime. Some of these persons may have had no intention of consciously violating the law.
Cases of this nature tend to be extremely document-heavy and legally complex, and guidance from a skilled white-collar defense attorney with a track record of positive results could be vital to ensuring your rights are respected. If you are facing accusations of mortgage fraud, speaking with a Columbia mortgage fraud lawyer about your options for defending yourself in court should be your top priority.
Like many other types of fraud, the legal definition of mortgage fraud is broad and can be applied to various unique schemes and actions. In a general sense, mortgage fraud entails someone knowingly misleading a bank, moneylender, or other financial institution in order to fraudulently obtain a home loan or get better terms for a loan that the applicant would not have otherwise been able to obtain.
Mortgage fraud in practice can look different from case to case. To name a couple of common examples, someone who uses a “straw buyer” to purchase a home on their behalf may have committed mortgage fraud just as much as someone who lies about their income and/or existing assets in order to obtain a loan.
Conversely, lenders who make “air loans” without collateral to back up the loan or who mislead homeowners into giving up ownership of their property to avoid foreclosure may face prosecution for mortgage fraud as well. A Columbia mortgage fraud attorney could review the specific circumstances leading up to this type of charge during a private initial consultation and, once retained, provide guidance and support that is tailored to a defendant’s unique case.
In most situations, allegations of mortgage fraud made against South Carolina residents are prosecuted in federal court as opposed to state-level courts, with various federal statutes potentially playing a role in proceedings. The most common section of federal law under which charges related to mortgage fraud are filed is 18 U.S. Code § 1344, which specifically addresses the attempted or actual defrauding of a financial institution.
A conviction under this statute may allow for maximum sanctions of 30 years in federal prison, in addition to $1,000,000 in fines. However, not every type of mortgage fraud is covered by this one section of federal law, so it is always worth discussing a particular situation with a mortgage fraud lawyer in Columbia to identify an appropriate course of action.
Mortgage fraud is often a complex criminal offense that both state and federal authorities take extremely seriously. Without support from experienced legal counsel, your chances of achieving a positive resolution to your case may be slim.
A home can often be your most important asset. Discussing legal options with a Columbia mortgage fraud lawyer could be a key first step towards proactively protecting your best interests. Schedule a consultation by calling today.