Practice Areas

Real Estate Fraud

Real Estate Fraud

What is Real Estate Fraud?

Real estate fraud occurs when one commits fraud in the purchase, sale, rental, or financing of real estate property.  It can occur at any point of a transaction related to real property, including throughout the financing process, appraisal, closing, or foreclosure proceedings.  There is no specific real estate fraud statute under California law.  Prosecutors use several different statutes to pursue convictions for real estate fraud, including:

California Penal Code § 487grand theft

California Penal Code § 532theft by false pretenses

California Penal Code § 115filing forged documents

California Civil Code § 2945.4foreclosure fraud

Real estate fraud may take several different forms, including:

Mortgage Fraud – equity skimming and/or obtaining a mortgage with false information or a stolen identity.  

Foreclosure Fraud – deceiving a property owner for the purpose of taking possession of the property.

Forging Deeds – filing a forged deed with the county recorder.

Illegal Property Flipping (Mortgage/Loan Fraud) – similar to loan or mortgage fraud, the flipper overinflates the price with a dishonest mortgage broker or appraiser and then sells the property to an unsuspecting buyer.

Phantom Help Schemes – charging  a property owner to help delay or prevent a pending foreclosure and not following through.  California Civil Code § 2945.4 requires a “foreclosure consultant” to full perform each and every service for which he/she was contracted before receiving compensation.

Predatory Lending Schemes – failing to consider a borrower’s ability to repay a loan or recommending/encouraging a consumer to default on his/her loan in order to issue a new loan.

Rent Skimming – renting and collecting income a property one does not own.

Straw Buyer Schemes – when someone buys a home for someone else who is not qualified to do so.

Penalties for Real Estate Fraud

Depending on the factual circumstances of each case, real estate fraud may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. To make such a determination, prosecutors consider several factors, such as the defendant’s criminal history, the magnitude of the offense at issue, and damages suffered by the victim, if any. Misdemeanor real estate fraud may be punishable by up to one year in county jail in addition to restitution, penalties, and fines. Felony real estate fraud may be punishable by up to three years in state prison, in addition to restitution, penalties, and fines.

Irvine, California Real Estate Fraud Attorney

The first and most important decision a defendant or anyone facing a real estate fraud investigation must make is to retain the right defense attorney. Responding to a real estate fraud investigation or charges requires a proactive, coordinated, and proactive approach. White collar federal defense attorney Peter Hardin has a long and outstanding track record of establishing clear communication with federal law enforcement agents and prosecutors and responding swiftly and accurately to search warrants and subpoenas. Because Peter Hardin has prosecuted and defended against criminal cases, such as real estate fraud, for nearly 20 years, he understands not just the law, but the way federal authorities investigate cases and the prosecutorial tactics that follow. It is essential that anyone who may be under investigation for real estate fraud, or who has been charged with real estate fraud, act quickly to build a strong defense and protect their rights. Contact Peter Hardin now for a free and confidential consultation.

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