In recent years, real estate agents and appraisers have been the target of a crackdown on mortgage fraud. This means investigators have gotten involved when s series of movement with properties has suggested some kind of collusion or fraud.
Recently, a 52-year-old from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, was sentenced for his role in mortgage fraud. The real estate agent only pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire or mail fraud, yet he was still sentenced to serve three years in prison.
According to the plea agreement, the real estate agent was part of a scheme in order to secure investors for multiple properties. As part of this, he was working to help builders and developers.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, this is how it would work: The developers and builders would sell the properties well below their value. The real estate agent would find investors for these properties. The appraiser would then come in and value the home at inflated values. The lenders would then approve loans based on this inflated value. The difference between the reduced price and the inflated price would go in the form of a kickback to the investor that the real estate agent was able to secure.
The claim was that not only was the White Bear Lake man involved in securing investors, but that he also purchased several properties through his then-wife’s name in order to receive some of the kickbacks. He ended up personally receiving $397,000 in purchaser kickbacks.
In looking at a case like this one, this is a prime example of mortgage fraud. With mortgage fraud, those accused should keep in mind that the No. 1 thing the prosecution needs to prove is intent. This means it must be proven that the accused was knowingly involved and that the charge does not stem from an honest mistake.
In general, any time there are accusations involving mortgage fraud in the Twin Cities area, it is important for those under investigation to not try to take matters into their own hands, but rather to contact an attorney with experience handling these types of cases. This attorney can provide further insight into what next steps need to be taken and what to avoid.
Source: Twin Cities Business, “White Bear Lake Man Gets 3 Yrs. for $7M Mortgage Fraud,” Rebecca Omastiak, May 30, 2013