NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FEDERAL LAWYERS
Last Updated on: 5th December 2023, 02:11 pm
Representing Clients Facing Federal Bank and Mortgage Fraud Charges
Clients facing federal bank or mortgage fraud charges have a lot at stake. These white collar crimes carry severe penalties like hefty fines, asset forfeiture, and years in federal prison. Having an experienced defense attorney can make all the difference in reaching the best possible outcome. This article provides an overview of common federal bank and mortgage fraud schemes, challenges in representation, and potential defenses to explore.
Background on Federal Bank and Mortgage Fraud
Federal prosecutors aggressively go after bank and mortgage fraud under various statutes. Some of the most commonly used provisions include 18 U.S.C. § 1344 (bank fraud), 18 U.S.C. § 1014 (loan application fraud), and 18 U.S.C. § 1343 (wire fraud).
To prove guilt, prosecutors must establish beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly executed or attempted to execute a scheme to defraud a financial institution. A scheme simply means having an intent to deceive or cheat a bank out of money or property. Mortgage fraud schemes often involve misrepresenting income, assets, or liabilities on a loan application in order to qualify for a larger loan amount.
Unique Challenges in Federal Bank and Mortgage Fraud Cases
Defending bank and mortgage fraud charges poses unique challenges for several reasons:
- Complex paper trails – These white collar cases involve extensive paper trails with loan applications, bank statements, tax returns, and more. Sifting through mountains of documents to build a defense is no easy feat.
- Cooperating witnesses – Prosecutors often rely on cooperating insider witnesses like appraisers, brokers, or borrowers who cut a deal to testify against our client. Their damaging testimony must be thoroughly investigated and undermined.
- Harsh sentencing – Unlike state cases, federal sentencing guidelines often call for lengthy prison terms for bank and mortgage convictions due to the high dollar amounts involved. The stakes could not be higher for our clients.
- Forfeiture provisions – Convictions under the federal bank fraud or money laundering statutes allow the government to seize assets connected to the alleged fraud proceeds. An experienced attorney can often mitigate or avoid forfeiture altogether.
Exploring Possible Defenses
Successfully defending federal mortgage fraud charges requires examining the case for legal and factual defenses. Here are some of the most common defenses we explore:
- Lack of intent – Since bank fraud requires an intent to defraud, one key defense is showing our client acted in good faith without any intent to deceive the lender.
- Materiality challenges – For charges under 18 USC § 1014, we analyze whether any misstatements on a loan application were actually material. Minor errors that do not affect loan decisions may not meet the legal standard.
- Statute of limitations – Certain bank or mortgage fraud charges must be brought within 5 or 10 years under 18 USC § 3282. Determining when the clock starts ticking can result in charges being barred by the statute of limitations.
- Compliance audits – Particularly in mortgage fraud cases, we scrutinize whether the bank conducted required compliance audits. Lack of oversight can undermine allegations against our client.
- Attacking cooperators – When insider witnesses cooperate with the government, we dig into their background and credibility. Showing cooperators lied in the past or have a motive to fabricate testimony can destroy their credibility.
Takeaways for Financial Fraud Defendants
Facing federal bank or mortgage fraud indictments can be extremely unsettling. But an experienced white collar defense attorney can carefully analyze the government’s case, identify weaknesses, and build a defense around legal and factual challenges. With so much at stake, securing top-notch representation from the start is critical.