Real estate is often a safe and familiar type of investment. The average person can dive into the world of purchasing property and learn along the way, unlike other types of investment that require some knowledge and understanding to be profitable. Even if you purchase Ohio real estate with the sole intention of owning a home, you will have lenders, realtors, appraisers and others to answer your questions and offer advice.
While it may be possible to go into real estate blindly, without a basic understanding of the mortgage process, you may be one of the many who end up in legal trouble by following questionable advice. In some cases, the guidance you receive may seem valuable if it saves you or even makes you money. However, you may end up in a mortgage fraud scheme that could cost you dearly.
Types of mortgage fraud
Any deception used to obtain a mortgage is a form of fraud. Often, this may be as simple as understating your debt to qualify for a mortgage so you can get the home of your dreams. However, mortgage fraud can also be a network of people working together to make millions of dollars by illegally obtaining mortgages and properties. Real estate agents, appraisers, mortgage brokers and other professionals have been known to collaborate in falsifying documentation to purchase property. Some common examples of real estate fraud include:
- Using someone else's vital information to secure a mortgage
- Falsifying your own employment verification, tax returns or other application documents
- Obtaining a loan for property that doesn't exist
- Obtaining a loan for a borrower who doesn't exist
- Claiming the property will be your primary home instead of an investment or rental
- Flipping property based on an inflated appraisal
Appraisers may undervalue the property to help you make the purchase or overvalue the real estate to inflate the commission of other professionals involved in the sale. Some real estate fraud becomes very elaborate, involving participants at every level of the transaction.
Who pays the price?
Some may feel that ripping off a bank or mortgage company is not that serious a crime. However, the government doesn't feel that way. Mortgage fraud creates an unstable economy, which affects millions of people by placing jobs in jeopardy. Lending companies undergo routine audits to detect fraud, and the penalties for such fraud are severe, including fines and prison sentences.
If you are accused of mortgage fraud, having legal assistance will be of great benefit to you. Fraud investigations are complex, and the authorities may have been building their case against you for some time. An experienced advocate can offer a skillful defense against the charges.