In 2010, the United States Department of Justice announced a new initiative to aggressively investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud, which includes straw buyers. A nationwide mortgage fraud task force was named “Operation Stolen Dreams” and by June of 2010, 1,215 criminal defendants had been named. In Arizona, 51 defendants were indicted, convicted or sentenced during that same time. If you are under investigation or have been accused of being a straw buyer in a mortgage fraud case, you may face serious consequences if convicted. It is essential that you seek the advice of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. At The Law Offices of Ashley Adams, our Arizona lawyers have extensive experience representing alleged straw buyers. We provide aggressive, strategic representation to our clients in order to limit exposure to harsh criminal penalties.
A “straw buyer” scheme is one of the most common forms of mortgage fraud. In this scheme, one person purchases a house or other property on behalf of another person who would not normally qualify for a loan. The straw buyer either has good credit or falsifies credit information to qualify for the loan. Often the straw buyer gets a percentage of the proceeds of the loan. The straw buyers has no intention of ever living in the home or making mortgage payments.
Straw buyer schemes may involve several different parties. The most common include (but are not necessary limited to):
There are many different circumstances in straw buyers scheme, but generally an agent or broker sells a home to the straw buyer at an inflated price to achieve his or her goal of padding the commission. The agent or broker may entice the straw buyer by telling the straw that he or she is helping the buyer purchase the house for a great deal, which will allow the straw to split the profit with the agent. Mortgage brokers may also be involved by processing the false documents that allow the straw to purchase the property. If an unsuspecting straw is not involved in the scheme, the real estate and mortgage broker may collect the profits while the straw unknowingly assumes the mortgage. When he or she doesn’t pay, the bank forecloses on the property and the straw loses their good credit and may face criminal charges.
Most charges in straw buyers scheme are federal, and may include mail fraud, wire fraud, or other white collar crimes. To convict a person of mortgage fraud, the prosecution must prove criminal intent. It is possible that straw buyers had no knowledge that criminal activity was taking place. It is easy for an innocent person to get caught up in a straw buyer scheme. Often times, the perpetrators of these schemes will recruit victims who they manipulate to help them execute mortgage fraud. At the Law Offices of Ashley Adams in Phoenix, our Arizona lawyers will carefully examine all the details of your case to determine if you had no intention of committing a crime. For instance:
Depending upon the criminal charge and the amount of losses, conviction for mortgage fraud can lead to a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and heavy fines. If you have been questioned by the police, subpoenaed to appear at a grand jury, or charged with mortgage fraud, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you. A criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of Ashley Adams will aggressively defend and protect your rights. Call Attorney Ashley Adams today for a free case evaluation.