We're seeing now, more and more, real estate fraud-related offenses. This can take the form of many different types of crimes and circumstances.
For example, someone can be a real estate agent or broker and manipulate the numbers to help their clients qualify for a loan.
They can allow them to use their employment to show they make more money than they do, and there's a whole bunch of other different things that can be done.
This would be real estate fraud, and the person would be looking at being prosecuted either at the California state level, which I see most of the time or at the federal level if some other factors and circumstances apply.
California's criminal law provisions cover fraudulent conduct occurring during the real estate transaction and mortgage loan acquisition process in many ways.
Simply put, the crime of real estate fraud happens when somebody commits fraud that is connected to the purchase, sale, rental, or financing of real estate property.
Real estate fraud laws address a broad range of criminal conduct involving mortgages, housing, rental agreements, and foreclosures.
This type of fraud often results in significant financial losses, and prosecutors will aggressively pursue credible allegations.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will review the laws below.
Grand Theft – Penal Code 487 PC
Several statutes for real estate fraud, such as grand theft, are defined under California Penal Code 487. If the prosecutor uses grand theft in the context of real estate fraud, they must be able to prove certain factors to obtain a conviction.
For example, they will have to show that the defendant intentionally deceived the property owner with false claims or representation. Also, that the unlawful conduct allowed them to take ownership of the property.
Under this statute, real estate or mortgage fraud occurs when someone makes false statements or promises to either a buyer or seller with a specific intent. The other party is misled and then gives them something of value to which they would not otherwise be entitled.
This includes lying over the ownership of a piece of property during the sales process, concealing defects with the property, among others. Other specific provisions also apply to real estate fraud cases. These include:
- foreclosure fraud in violation of California Civil Code Section 2945.4,
- rent skimming as prohibited by Civil Code Section 890,
- presentation of forged documents as prohibited under California Penal Code Section 115 PC, and
- forgery under Penal Code 470 PC.
Punishments for Real Estate Fraud Cases
But now we're seeing the Attorney General's office prosecute many of these real estate fraud cases, and they're looking to send people to prison.
They're looking to cause real estate agents and brokers to lose their licenses. They take this kind of business very seriously.
They do because they perceive this to affect our economy when people are getting loans when they shouldn't — they don't pay them.
It puts banks under challenging situations where people are foreclosing on homes, and the banks are losing money, and they don't want to see another crash as they did in 2008 where these banks are loaning people money that simply cannot pay them back. So, any form of real estate fraud will be dealt with harshly.
Defending Real Estate Fraud
I've been defending people charged with various types of real estate fraud for the past 30 years. The first thing we have to do is get you into the office to sit down and talk about it and decide if you're being investigated.
It's an excellent move to sit down with the authorities and talk to them and give them your story or perspective, or it's the best plan to keep your mouth shut and let your attorney do the talking. This is the first thing we have to look at.
If you've already been charged with a real estate fraud type scenario, now we have to evaluate whether or not the police/prosecutors have a good case against you.
In other words, if you go to trial, you have to review all the evidence closely. That's what you're entitled to do. You can go to trial. If you decide to go to trial in a real estate fraud case, are you going to win?
And that's best to evaluate it with someone like me who's been doing this for 30 years, who's done over 250 jury trials, who's seen what it takes to win, who's seen when people are making a wrong decision to go to trial.
So, if you go to trial, we will do the investigation. We will set the case up to win the chance at a jury trial. If, on the other hand, it's not in your best interest to go to trial because you're going to low, you're not going to waste time, money, effort, and stress going to trial, only to have a bad result.
In that case, we're going to have to mitigate the circumstances. We will have to put together a mitigation package on your behalf; let me speak to the authorities, whether it be the police, the prosecutors, or the judge, and see what we can do to get you the best possible result.
Through a process known as prefiling intervention, it might be possible to drop or reduce charges before your case proceeds to court. Effective representation ban y experienced defense lawyer is crucial to maximizing the chances of a successful outcome in your case.
So, if you or a loved one is facing real estate fraud charges, you've come to the right place. I've been down this road before. I know what it takes to be successful. Pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you.
Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles County, and we offer a free case evaluation.