A federal grand jury handed down an indictment this week charging a Sacramento resident of mortgage fraud. The landscape of the housing market has seen extreme upheaval over the last decade. There was a point when home values were very high and it seemed like there was no way to lose when investing in residential property this led to an atmosphere in which credit and income checks were a mere formality because it was seemingly impossible for anyone to lose money.
Of course, that atmosphere did not last, after the true value of mortgage backed securities began to be seriously questions home values plunged almost everywhere. This created a new lending environment in which every aspect of the mortgage lending process came under strict scrutiny. It is in this new, stricter environment in which more cases of alleged mortgage fraud are being investigated.
The charges announced this week relate to a single property in West Sacramento. The suspect is charged with taking out home equity loans on the property by misrepresenting his income and outstanding mortgage balance. The suspect then allegedly granted joint ownership of the property to a second suspect who also secured home equity loans using allegedly false income and outstanding mortgage amounts. According to law enforcement officials, the other suspect then defaulted on those loans.
These types of charges are taken very seriously by federal prosecutors and can carry heft consequences. The mail fraud charges against the suspect could result in up to 30 years in prison and a million dollar fine. Both the FBI and IRS criminal investigation unit cooperated in this investigation.
Source: Sacramento Business Journal, “Sacramento man accused of mortgage fraud, money laundering,” Mark Anderson, Jan. 27, 2012