In an interesting twist, five individuals were charged with second-degree residential mortgage fraud after they cheated homeowners and banks out of approximately $1.1 million. The specific charge has not been used in their county for five years, making it a surprise to some observing this case. Even in other counties of the state, only 31 individuals have faced charges of mortgage fraud in the first or second degree across those five years.
In this case, a woman working as a real estate agent is accused of working with four other people to commit the fraud. They are also accused of falsifying business records and grand larceny. If convicted, they may be sentenced to as many as twenty years in prison each.
The woman at the center of the case, 55, was recently arrested close to her home. In addition to being a real estate agent, she is also a lawyer, so she knows how serious the charges against her are. In order to secure a conviction for the second-degree residential mortgage fraud charge, prosecutors will need to prove that at least $50,000 was stolen. If they wanted to pursue a first-degree charge, they would have to demonstrate that over $1,000,000 was stolen. Since the alleged total of $1.1 million is close to the first-degree threshold, prosecutors decided to go with the lesser and ostensibly more provable charge.
One of the woman's co-conspirators is also a lawyer, with a second one being a real estate appraiser. The occupations of the third and fourth coconspirators have not been made public.
According to accusations made in the case, the five defendants scammed banks and home buyers across a nine year period. They did this by using fake credit reports, falsified business records, and falsified loan applications.
Mortgage fraud legal cases affect people across the country, including Florida where high real estate prices lead home buyers to look for good mortgage deals. It is in everyone's interest to have mortgage fraud cases brought to a successful resolution.
Source: Syracuse.com, "Defendants in CNY home mortgage fraud case facing rare charge" John O' Brien, Aug. 28, 2013