A well-known real estate agent in Cape Coral pleaded guilty to bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud earlier this month. The case is one of many that make up an “alarming trend” in Southwest Florida, according to federal agents. Arrests and prosecutions for investor fraud are on the rise as government officials increase their efforts to punish white collar crime in this state. Many types of fraud began to proliferate as people struggled with the economic troubles beginning in 2008. Since that time, the complaints involving investor fraud, real estate fraud, mail fraud and other white collar crimes have steadily risen. Florida is considered a hotspot for many forms of white collar crime.
The maximum sentence for the crimes in Cape Coral is 30 years in prison for each of the six counts. The real estate agent could also be fined $1 million and ordered to pay restitution to the victims of the fraud. His crimes involved mortgaging proper by fraudulently representing himself, or entities he controlled, as sole beneficiaries of a land trust. The actual beneficiaries were not aware that he had mortgaged the land. He eventually defaulted on the mortgage and the lender instituted foreclosure proceedings in 2009.
Prosecutions of this type have increased at a startling rate in Florida. A Federal Reserve inspector general office was opened in Fort Myers specifically to address this type of activity. With the added attention have come stiffer penalties. Anyone accused of real estate fraud, bank fraud, mail fraud or any type of white collar crime would be well advised to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Source: NBC-2, “Cape real estate broker pleads guilty to fraud,” by Leigh Dana, 14 March 2013