The Florida foreclosure crisis has created distress across the state. Government officials are now pursuing people who may have contributed to the crisis through deceptive or unlawful practices. The Office of the Attorney General of Florida has announced that it is investigating all aspects of the foreclosure crisis and prosecuting cases involving fraud or misrepresentation.
For example, in March 2011, three people were charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and mortgage fraud in a mortgage-fraud case. Two of them were also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. All three people are accused of using straw buyers to artificially inflate the purchase price of real estate. Court documents allege that they obtained more than $2.5 million in loans for the property, laundering about $500,000 in deceptive loans.
The Florida Attorney General’s Office is also investigating the practices of several law firms that handled foreclosure lawsuits. Earlier this year, the Florida Attorney General’s Office subpoenaed records from several law firms as part of an inquiry into alleged unfair and deceptive trade practices. That investigation expanded to also include process-servers who were responsible for notifying homeowners and loan-servicing companies of foreclosure proceedings.
Federal-government entities are also investigating possible foreclosure fraud and loan-modification fraud. In mid-March, the Federal Trade Commission charged a national loan-modification operation based in Florida with violating the FTC Act and the FTC Telemarketing Sales Rule. The organization is accused of falsely informing struggling homeowners that they could obtain loan modifications to drastically reduce their mortgage payments.
The government is taking these matters seriously and people under investigation for fraud are wise to do the same. If you are under investigation or have been charged with a crime relating to mortgage fraud or foreclosure fraud, speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to make sure your rights and interests are protected.