In this day and age, mortgage fraud is more common than ever before. Real estate appraisers sign off on false appraisals that show inflated property values, some buyers lie on mortgage applications, other buyers use cash back to make up their down payment, and brokers bend the law in order to get loan applications approved. All of this amounts to mortgage fraud in New Jersey.
What is Mortgage Fraud?
Generally speaking, mortgage fraud is a label for a broad category of a crime involving the intent to materially misrepresent or omit information on a mortgage loan application in order to obtain a loan or larger loan than one could have legally obtained. In New Jersey, mortgage fraud is a crime, but there is no mortgage fraud statute. Mortgage fraud is simply a type of fraud that falls under the crimes of theft by deception and money laundering.
In most cases, mortgage fraud is considered theft by deception. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4, you can be found guilty of theft by deception if you create or reinforce in another person a false impression, value, intention, or other states of mind for the purpose of deceiving that person in order to obtain a financial benefit you are not legally entitled to.
You can also be found guilty if you prevent another from acquiring information that would affect his judgment concerning a transaction. Similarly, guilt can arise if you fail to correct a false impression that the deceiver previously created or reinforced. However, mere puffery or exaggerated statements that would not deceive a reasonable person similarly situated will not amount to theft by deception.
Sometimes, mortgage fraud is charged as money laundering. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-25, you can be guilty of money laundering if you transport or possess a property that you know (or a reasonable person would believe) is derived from criminal activity. In the case of mortgage fraud, criminal activity usually involves false information on a loan application or illegal financial transactions relating to a mortgage. You can also be guilty if you engage in a transaction involving property that you know (or a reasonable person would believe) is derived from criminal activity.
Remember, in order to be guilty of money laundering, you must have the intent to do at least one of the following:
- Facilitate or promote criminal activity
- Conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership or control of the property
- Avoid a transaction reporting requirement
Penalties and Fines
When it comes to theft by deception, the penalty is a function of the amount of money involved in the alleged theft. If the amount of money involved was more than $75,000, you can be imprisoned for 5-10 years and fined up to $150,000. If the amount of money involved was more than $500 but less than $75,000, you can be imprisoned for 3-5 years and fined up to $15,000. If the amount of money involved was more than $200-$500, you can be imprisoned for 18 months and fined up to $10,000.
Furthermore, for money laundering, if the amount of money involved was $500,000 or more, you could face 10-20 years in jail and be fined up to $200,000. If the amount of money involved is at least $75,000 but is less than $500,000, you could face 5-10 years in jail and face a $150,000 fine. For less than $75,000, you could be imprisoned for 3-5 years and fined up to $15,000.
Who Should I Contact?
If you or a loved one has been charged with mortgage fraud in New Jersey(i.e. theft by deception or money laundering), contact Adam H. Rosenblum of Rosenblum Law today. His team of New Jersey criminal defense attorneys will do what they can in order to protect your legal rights and fight to keep you out of prison. He can be reached via e-mail or at 888-815-3649.