Prior to the Great Recession, many Georgians were able to become homeowners. Yet, once the housing bubble burst, things rapidly began to change. By 2009, foreclosures and mortgage delinquencies were on the rise. This often led to instances of industry-wide mortgage fraud. Although the housing market is starting to turn around, readers in Georgia may still wonder, "What is mortgage fraud?"
While the following is not legal advice, in general, mortgage fraud occurs when one materially misrepresents, misstates or omits information regarding the home or the buyer, which the lender relies on when making a loan. Such misrepresentations can involve identity theft, false loan applications, inflated appraisals, kickbacks and others. Oftentimes, banks may not realize they have been the victim of mortgage fraud until months or even years after the fact. Many of those who commit mortgage fraud work inside the industry, such as mortgage brokers, appraisers and loan originators.
In general, the Federal Bureau of Investigation goes after two types of mortgage fraud -- fraud for housing and fraud for profit. The FBI often learns about cases of potential fraud through Suspicious Activity Reports created by federally-insured banks. In fiscal year 2003, 6,936 of these reports were filed. Nonetheless, by 2009, that number jumped to over 67,000 reports.
As this shows, the FBI takes mortgage fraud seriously and will not hesitate to prosecute those who allegedly commit it. It is at times like these that anyone accused of mortgage fraud understand their rights. In any criminal case, the prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. If any reasonable doubt remains as to whether the accused committed the crime, a conviction cannot be made.