Orange County Straw Buyer Scheme Defense Attorneys
The "straw buyer" scheme is the most common loan fraud crime. It involves several people, including small lenders, independent real estate brokers, mortgage brokers, appraisers, notaries and private individuals. If you are being accused of participating in a straw buyer scheme in Southern California, Law Office of Michael L. Guisti can help defend your case.
Straw buyer schemes typically involve a real estate agent who convinces a person with good credit to buy a home for someone with poor credit and financial problem. The person they buy a home for can be a friend, a family member, a stranger, or even a fictitious individual.
In typical cases, the agent offers a homebuyer money to secure a loan using their name and personal information. The person signing the loan often has no intention of living in the home or making payments on the home. They may believe that the person moving into the home will make payment, or they even may be entirely unaware of what they are doing.
The victim signs the paperwork with the help of a notary who is also in on the scam to help make it seem legitimate. Mortgage brokers then process the falsified documents, allowing the transaction to occur, even if the buyer's income would not normally allow them to make the purchase.
The parties involved in the transaction collect their money while the straw buyer unknowingly assumes the mortgage. When the person who moves into the home does not pay the mortgage/rent, financial obligation falls on the buyer. Because they are unaware of the debt, the bank forecloses the property while the straw buyer loses their good credit. In the end, the buyer will likely be forced to declare bankruptcy and face criminal charges.
The California Attorney General has special units designed to combat real estate fraud. Law enforcement is quick to prosecute straw buyer scams on account of the innocent persons involved, and because such frauds often involve several people, and can even include entire real estate offices. Real estate agents can face charges for legitimate transactions. Sometimes, people who understood the terms of a transaction and suddenly cannot afford to make payments will turn on their agent, claiming they did not explain the situation properly or tricked them into taking out a loan. Because many real estate laws are designed to protect the consumer, an
OC real estate fraud lawyer is needed to fight false charges. The most common defense in such cases involves proving that the straw buyer knew what they were doing. This will apply, for example, in a case where the buyer agreed to cosign the mortgage to help out a friend or family. Whether you can use defense depends on how you presented the loan to the debtor.
It is easier to clear your case if you explained the following aspects of the loan:
- Their legal obligations
- How the loan would affect their credit
- What type of fees you charged
Whether or not you paid the buyer any money for authorizing the transaction will also weigh in on your charges. Unfortunately, if you paid someone to take on the mortgage of another person so the other person could move into a home, then you are liable to be charged for a straw buyer scheme.
Prosecutors often believe they are protecting unwitting people from real estate scammers who would take advantage of them. Unfortunately, such is not always the case. Contact us for legal assistance if you have been accused of participating in a fraudulent real estate scheme.
Though straw fraud is not a law in and of itself, it is covered under California's foreclosure, rent skimming, forgery, and grand theft laws. Depending on the details of your case it's possible you could be charged with one or all those crimes, which can result in prison time and thousands of dollars' worth of fines.
Even if you performed your duties correctly you may still be charged with this very serious crime. Our seasoned attorneys have over a decade of experience winning fraud cases for our clients. We'll work to keep you out of jail, keep your license and protect your reputation.
To speak with an OC criminal defense lawyer about your charges, contact us at (714) 530-9690 today and schedule a free consultation.
We only represent people being accused of fraud or arrested on fraud charges, we do not represent victims of fraud.
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.