Orange County Real Estate Fraud Lawyer
Southern California has experienced a massive real-estate collapse, and mortgage brokers, realtors, notaries, appraisers, contractors, and non-professional buyers and sellers have been caught in changing, complex laws. While these new laws are designed to protect consumers from the real-estate practices that many people believe caused the bubble to "burst," they can often lead to confusing situations and frustrating accusations.
Real estate fraud is prosecuted very seriously in Southern California. If you've been accused of a similar crime in Orange County or the surrounding areas, contact Law Office of Michael L. Guisti. The dedicated OC criminal defense lawyers at our firm are here to protect your reputation and pursue a favorable outcome on your behalf. Call (714) 530-9690 or toll-free (888) 478-8999 to schedule a free consultation.
Real estate fraud is a type of white-collar crime that involves some form of fraud during transactions involving real estate. These cases can involve several overlapping crimes, such as grand theft (theft crimes involving property worth over $950), identity theft, or forgery. In general, to be convicted of real estate fraud, the prosecution must demonstrate that:
- You lied, used false information, or misrepresented facts during a real estate transaction;
- You knew the information was false or misleading;
- You intended to deprive another person of their real estate or the value of their real estate; and
- The property owner agreed to a real estate transaction based on your false information.
For example, if someone forged the details on a house’s adjustment, such as hiding that it had severe water damage, and sold it at a high price to a new owner, then the seller would be charged with real estate fraud.
As a response to the real estate crisis, the California Attorney General – along with the Southern California district attorney offices of Orange County, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego – have created specialized units to aggressively go after and prosecute those accused of real estate fraud.
If you are a mortgage broker, real estate agent, appraiser, notary, contractor, or non-professional buyer and seller, there are several real estate fraud crimes you could be charged with, which is why our firm is here to fight for your rights and reputation. Our legal professionals have over a decade of experience winning cases for our clients accused of real estate fraud and are prepared to advocate on your behalf.
Authorities have become so aggressive that these days they are not just charging the single person allegedly involved in the real estate fraud crime, but often the whole real estate office is being charged and/or subpoenaed, which is why it's so important to contact our real estate fraud attorney.
There isn't one single real estate fraud crime, but rather they're several different misdemeanor and felony real estate fraud crimes. This includes crimes such as the following:
- Predatory lending
- Foreclosure fraud
- Rent skimming
- Deed fraud or forgery
- House flipping crimes
- Title transfer fraud
- "Phantom help"
- Straw buying
Real estate transactions are made public, so it's easy for anybody to see what business you've been conducting. Generally what starts an investigation against you is when the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) notice certain "red flags" involved in pending real estate transactions you're involved with.
Sometimes the DRE just may receiving multiple complaints about you, or they see that a home is being sold for much more than market value, or they notice real estate contracts that include inflated fees, or unethical requirements.
It's important to understand that most of California's real estate fraud laws are covered under California's grand theft crime laws, which means it's a "wobbler”: you could be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. Most district attorneys choose to charge this as a felony due to the significant amount of money involved, which means, if convicted, you could face
- Up to three years in state prison;
- Up to $10,000 in court fines;
- Felony probation
Depending on the value of the property involved, you could face even harsher punishments.
If the homeowner or renter was deprived of more than $100,000 and the defendant was convicted of two or more felonies involving fraud in the same criminal proceeding, there could be additional and consecutive years in the state prison and either a maximum $500,000 fine or double the amount of the fraud, whichever is greater.
There are also other charges you can face, including forgery, which can lead to felony penalties:
- Up to 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison;
- Up to $10,000 in fines; and/or
- Felony probation
Fighting real estate fraud charges is nearly impossible on your own. Cases like these require a thorough examination of California’s real estate laws, your business transactions, the alleged victim’s accusations, and any financial evidence against you. Your best bet is to work with a skilled fraud attorney at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti who can craft a strong defense based on:
- You had no intentions of misleading the alleged victim.
- You believed the information you provided was accurate and true.
- You acted with the consent of the alleged victim during the real estate transaction.
- The alleged victim is making false accusations to cover up for a financial error on their end.
Real estate fraud crimes are taken very seriously by the district attorney and they're casting a wide net in real estate offices, determined to convict as many individuals as possible. For this reason, you need to call Law Office of Michael L. Guisti right away if you have been accused of committing fraud. Our firm has the experience to free you of these charges and allow you to keep your license.
We're here to protect your reputation, license and freedom, and we have over a decade worth of experience successfully winning real estate fraud cases for our clients. Contact our OC fraud defense lawyers today at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 if you are ready to speak about your charges.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.