Irvine Real Estate Fraud Attorney
An Aggressive Fighter with Years of Experience
Attorney Diane C. Bass is a skilled and experienced litigator who will put up an aggressive fight for you in court. Whether you are a buyer, seller, or lender, Attorney Bass can build a strong defense for you against real estate charges, whether at the federal or state level.
What Is Real Estate Fraud?
The crime of real estate fraud is when one party to a real estate transaction falsely represents relevant information to the other party, who acts on the false information to their financial detriment. Real estate fraud occurs in many contexts, including the closing (sale or purchase) on a real property and the mortgage application or approval process.
To prove an incident of real estate fraud, the prosecution must demonstrate:
- one party made a misstatement or omitted a material (relevant) fact to the other;
- the party making the misstatement or omission intended to commit fraud;
- the other party relied upon the misstatement in making a decision, such as to approve a loan or to purchase a home; and
- the other party, as a result of that reliance, incurred financial loss.
Be aware that a loss by the other party must be shown. For example, the lost chance to purchase a home could be considered a financial loss, depending on the circumstances.
Ways Real Estate Fraud Might Occur
Real estate fraud can occur on the buyer side, seller side, or lender side. A buyer might commit fraud if they take out a mortgage loan to finance the purchase of real property and make false representations on their loan application, which is evaluated by a lender, typically a bank. Such false statements could be:
- providing a credit score that is higher than the buyer’s actual credit score;
- providing an income figure than the buyer’s actual income;
- misrepresenting the amount and types of debts the borrower owes to various creditors; and
- submitting falsified paycheck stubs or statements or falsified tax statements.
Other examples of buyer fraud include using:
- a stolen identity (via identity theft) on the application documents;
- a so-called “straw-buyer” which involves an agent;
- a “silent second” (the buyer, without the lender’s knowledge or approval, obtains a second mortgage from a different lender to finance the down payment).
Sellers can commit real estate fraud before or during the closing process. If a seller makes an intentional misrepresentation of fact or omission to a buyer about the seller’s house, and the buyer relies on that false information in making their purchase, the seller is guilty of real estate fraud. One common example of this is when a seller may know of a serious defect in the property that the buyer is unlikely to discover. If the buyer purchases the house based on the seller’s false representations, then the seller could face legal action.
Lenders and real estate brokers may commit a form of real estate fraud referred to as appraisal fraud, where the lender, agent, and sometimes the appraiser, work together to deliberately inflate the value of the purchase price to get the buyer to make the purchase.
Penalties and Sentencing
A crime of real estate fraud may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the severity of the crime. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and/or fines, and a felony is punishable by a prison sentence of 1 year or more, as well as monetary fines.
Keep in mind that real estate fraud is an offense both under state law and federal law, and the consequences for prosecuting at the federal level will be more severe than at the state level.
Contact Attorney Diane C. Bass for Legal Help
If you have been accused of real estate fraud, whether as a buyer, seller, or lender, it is advisable to consult an experienced real estate fraud attorney immediately for legal guidance. The law can be particularly nuanced when it comes to real estate fraud. Attorney Diane C. Bass is an experienced attorney who can take a look at your situation and determine your next best course of legal action to defend against charges of fraud.
Over 25 Years of Criminal Defense Legal Experience
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Extensive Knowledge & Experience With Federal Cases
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Handled Some of the Largest Cases in the History of the Central District of California
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