Mortgage Fraud Convictions In South Carolina Can Carry Stiff Penalties

A couple from Myrtle Beach recently pleaded guilty to crimes based on mortgage fraud; the man illegally collected $36,500 and the woman $200,000 through a real estate deal based on fraudulent statements. Each may receive sentences of up to five years in jail and $250,000 fines.

A Fort Mill ex-councilman is in jail after violating his parole for mortgage fraud he committed by lying on a home loan application. In addition to a year and a half in jail, he also has an order to pay back $314,750 to the victim.

A West Columbia Realtor overvalued a number of homes, costing a Wachovia bank almost $1.7 million in losses. The Realtor, who also works as a mortgage broker, may spend up to 20 years in jail in addition to paying a $250,000 fine.

Mortgage fraud can be a misstatement, misrepresentation or omission relied upon by a lender or underwriter when funding, purchasing or insuring a mortgage loan. One may incur criminal charges for mortgage fraud stemming from actions taken at the time of loan origination and later, during the foreclosure avoidance process. Schemes targeting certain types of consumers during short sales, loan modifications or credit clean-ups are common.

People convicted of mortgage fraud are subject to a number of forms of punishment, including:

  • Jail time
  • Fines
  • Restitution — paying back the victim's losses
  • Legal costs and fees

Not only may state laws and penalties be imposed, but mortgage fraud is also a federal crime, which can carry punishments of up to $1 million in fines and 30 years in jail.

Even if an alleged perpetrator is not convicted in criminal court, he or she may be sued in civil court. Because the burden of proof — the amount of evidence needed to prove wrongdoing — is lower in civil cases than in criminal, a finding of "not guilty" may not provide a respite for the accused.

If you are charged with a crime, you need experienced assistance from an attorney knowledgeable of criminal law matters. There is too much at stake to avoid seeking the legal help you need.