Houston Mortgage Fraud Lawyer

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Houston Mortgage Fraud Attorney

Mortgage fraud occurs when a potential buyer makes misrepresentations to a lender to obtain a mortgage. It is considered a white collar crime, but because of the potential federal indictments that could accompany such a charge, an experienced Houston mortgage fraud lawyer is crucial to your defense. These charges are serious and can carry significant penalties.

If you’re facing a potential charge or have been arrested for mortgage fraud, contact The Law Offices of Richard Kuniansky. My experience as a federal prosecutor and defense attorney means that I’ve seen both sides of the courtroom. I can anticipate potential prosecutions and work toward the most optimal outcome for your case.

When The Feds And The Banks Are Against You, I Can Defend You

A conviction for bank fraud or mortgage fraud can lead to up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000. In the face of such dire consequences, you need the counsel of The Law Offices of Richard Kuniansky.

For more than 35 years, I have aggressively defended the rights of people in Houston and throughout the United States against federal white collar criminal charges. If you face accusations of bank or mortgage fraud, I will draw from my considerable experience in an effort to keep you out of jail and give you back your future.

What To Know About Bank And Mortgage Fraud Charges

Although bank fraud and mortgage fraud are similar in nature, they have distinct differences:

  • Bank fraud involves obtaining money or financing from a financial institution through deception.
  • Mortgage fraud also involves obtaining money or financing from a bank fraudulently, but it specifically applies to obtaining a mortgage or mortgages fraudulently, often through “straw buyers”.

White collar criminal charges require the federal government to prove intent. Having handled bank fraud defense and mortgage fraud defense for virtually every type of case imaginable, I examine the documentation and other evidence thoroughly, then set out to challenge the prosecution’s case.

Relevant Mortgage Fraud Laws You Could Be Charged With

These crimes would include wire fraud, bank fraud, or conspiracy charges. The statute of limitations is ten years, but fleeing the country to avoid arrest might extend that timeframe.

The specific penalties that you face depend on the specific charges. Some of the relevant federal laws include:

  • Bank Fraud Statute. This law prohibits using false or fraudulent pretenses to defraud a financial institution. This includes mortgage lenders, whether they are a traditional bank or not.
  • False Statements on Loan Applications – Financial institutions use the information on loan applications in part of their decision-making process on whether to approve a mortgage or not, so it’s important the information be truthful. Knowingly lying or misrepresenting the information on an application could be a violation of this law. This is true even if the loan is never made. The false statement simply has to have the capacity to influence a financial institution.
  • Wire Fraud – When fraud of some kind is committed through the use of electronic communication, including phone calls and emails, it can lead to additional charges of wire fraud.
  • Mail Fraud – Similar to wire fraud, if the mortgage process requires the mailing of documents, it could result in mail fraud charges as well.

Different Forms of Mortgage Fraud

Mortgage fraud crimes can happen in a variety of ways, but the end result is that the lender isn’t given accurate information regarding a property. Some of the more common ways that mortgage fraud is committed include:

  • Misrepresenting Information. One of the most common forms of fraud involves filling out a mortgage application with false information, including overvaluing current assets, lying about employment history, and inflating income. Applicants are generally hoping that the misleading information will lead to approval of a larger loan.
  • Documentation Fraud. Typically, a mortgage is not going to be given without documentation of the important information, and another common form of fraud involves people forging or falsifying those documents. This includes fraudulent versions of bank statements, income verification, or tax returns.
  • Property Appraisal Fraud. Usually done with the help of an appraiser, this typically occurs when the value of a home is intentionally inflated, and the higher value is used to deceive either buyers or lenders of the property’s value or to obtain a larger loan.
  • Equity Skimming. If someone has a rental property, they must use the property’s income to make the regular mortgage payments and related expenses, and failing to do so is illegal.
  • Fraudulent Flipping. Sometimes fraud occurs in order to flip a property. This is when a buyer purchases a property and then resells it at an artificially inflated price through fraudulent means such as false appraisals or false documents.
  • “Straw Buyers”. The Defendant pays someone with good credit to be on the loan application but the straw buyer has no intention of occupying the premises.

Penalties for Mortgage Fraud

The penalties for mortgage fraud are determined by the sentencing guidelines for the specific crime involved, the harm that the fraud caused, whether this is a first or repeat offense, and anything else that the judge deems relevant. Some of the consequences that are often included in mortgage fraud in Houston include:

  • A Prison Sentence. In more minor situations, the prison sentence involved could be only a few months. However, in cases where the fraud was significant and the impact was particularly harmful, it’s possible to get a prison sentence that lasts decades.
  • The fines will vary depending on the case. However, they can be rather significant in cases that involve serious fraud and significant harm.
  • Restitution is mandatory and those convicted will be required to pay back whatever economic losses were sustained as a result of the fraud.
  • For some less serious offenses, probation and restitution may be an option. Your attorney can guide you on the most appropriate path to take.

Defenses Against Mortgage Fraud

There are a few different ways that a mortgage fraud attorney can defend against accusations of mortgage fraud. One of the more common defenses involves the question of intent. In most cases, for something to be considered fraudulent, there must have been an attempt to commit the fraud and unlawfully gain a benefit from that deception. Arguing a lack of intent claims that fraud was not the reason behind whatever evidence appears to be fraudulent.

There are a couple of different ways that one could argue a lack of intent. One is that you were just unaware that you had the wrong information. If you had good cause to believe you were providing true information, then it could be hard to argue you intended to defraud the recipient of that information. This can typically be shown by demonstrating that you received incorrect information from someone or somewhere else.

Another way to argue a lack of intent is to argue that you made a simple mistake. If you can say that there was no attempt to deceive, then you simply made an error and hadn’t noticed. Often, this can be an easier argument to make if there was something confusing or unclear about the instructions or how the information was asked for.

Rare Experience From Both Perspectives

Many instances of bank or mortgage fraud involve business entities accused of falsifying documents or working with fraudulent brokers. However, private individuals can also find themselves on the receiving end of federal charges. For example, loan officers frequently end up scapegoats when they inadvertently approve loans based on a borrower’s falsified documents. As a former prosecutor who now focuses on federal fraud defense, I understand the infinite regulations and details of these cases inside and out – and how best to protect your rights.

Do Not Underestimate Your Situation – Contact Me Now

The circumstances are dire if you believe that you are under investigation or you have already been charged. Contact me for the aggressive and thorough defense you need against federal criminal charges. Please call me at 713-987-3902 or send me an email to schedule your initial consultation.



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