OC Foreclosure Fraud Lawyer
Foreclosures are near their all-time high, which has caused an economic boom for foreclosure consultants. Though many consultants have helped people stay in their homes, some have participated in fraud, leading to further economic difficulties in the housing industry. A law enacted by Governor Jerry Brown to curb this illicit activity has brought great limitations to the work of foreclosure consultants. As a result of these changes, many specialists have faced increasing fines and imprisonment.
If you are a foreclosure professional and have found yourself at risk of prosecution under new foreclosure laws, do not hesitate to contact the Orange County criminal defense attorneys at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690. We have been protecting the reputations of real estate attorneys since 1999, and are ready to take your case.
California law prohibits foreclosure consultants from collecting fees or charging compensation before performing a legitimate service. The following are also prohibited:
- Charging or collecting excessive fees for services
- Taking a lien on a property
- Taking a security as collateral for compensation
- Taking a power of attorney from a homeowner
- Coercing a homeowner to sign an illegal contract.
- Involving a third party in the service, where the fees and other requirements of the third party are not expressed to the homeowner.
- Inflating income for prospective property buyers
Most fraudulent foreclosure consultants advertise on sites like Craigslist, with promises to prevent foreclosure on a house. After demanding a large fee prior to performing services, the foreclosure consultant will do little to no work at all, leaving the homeowner worse off than before. In some cases, the fraudster declares bankruptcy under the homeowner, without the homeowner's consent.
This crime is steeply punished. In addition to the initial claim of foreclosure fraud, it is possible that a convicted consultant could face additional charges of grand theft, forgery, fraud, embezzlement and even elder abuse. If you are in this position, with massive fines and extensive prison time on the line, now is the time to contact a professional who will work to reduce and dismiss these additional charges.
If you are a legitimate foreclosure consultant, or if you plan on starting your own consulting business, you must register your personal information with the state Attorney General's office and post a $100,000 bond. This bond ensures that in case of conviction, consultants in violation of California's foreclosure laws can pay some restitution. It is very important to note that failing to register and/or post bond could result in to one year in jail and up to $25,000 in fines.
Foreclosure fraud is a "wobbler," which means it can be charged either a misdemeanor or felony. The degree of the charge depends on the case and your criminal background. If convicted of misdemeanor foreclosure fraud, you could face a fine of up to $10,000 and a maximum one year in a county jail; and if convicted of felony foreclosure fraud you face between 16 months and three years in a state prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. In addition, depending on the amount of money involved and your criminal history, you could also face fines of more than $500,000, as well as five years in prison
If you conducted any sort of foreclosure consulting business in another state from your office or home in California and are brought up on these charges, you could face federal criminal charges. You are potentially at risk if you provided consultation in other areas with weak housing markets and high levels of fraud, such as Las Vegas. If you are accused of fraud and money was between states, you could face charges on a federal level. With steep penalties on the line and a career at risk, an experienced lawyer is essential to defending your case.
Courts throughout Southern California have cracked down on foreclosure fraud, and many consultants are at risk of litigation. If you have been accused of fraud and need legal defense, our attorneys are ready to help. We have handled complex real estate cases since 1999, and will seek to ensure the security of your career and your reputation.
Contact our office to speak with an attorney about your case.
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.