Over the last ten years, prosecutions in relation to mortgage fraud have been on the increase. In the period following the 2008 financial crisis, which was seen to be in part the result of the reckless lending policies of banks and other financial institutions, property transactions have come under closer scrutiny. With higher instances of borrowers defaulting on debt repayments, lenders have regularly sought the assistance of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and other law enforcement agencies to redress or recoup losses.
Investigations into mortgage fraud focus on professionals involved in the buying and selling of property, as well as those involved in the financing of property transactions. This includes property investors, financial advisors, mortgage brokers, surveyors, solicitors and accountants. If you are the subject of an investigation into mortgage fraud, the specialist Criminal Defence Team at Wilford Smith can help. Our solicitors will provide you with sophisticated and astute legal advice to conduct a robust defence in respect of any accusations made against you. With many years of experience handling mortgage fraud cases, we have the required skills, knowledge and determination to ruthlessly develop a top-level strategy on your behalf.
What is mortgage fraud?
Investigations into mortgage fraud fall into one of two broad categories. The first of these involves a deception of the mortgage lender regarding the nature of the loan, either by misrepresenting the property or the income of the borrower. This can be done by a borrower exaggerating the property's value, or by failing to mention important information that would be likely to influence the decision of the lender to grant a mortgage over the property. As well as the borrower, those involved in providing information about the property or the obtaining of the mortgage can also be investigated if fraud is suspected.
Investigations are likely to explore whether due diligence was carried out appropriately by professionals involved in the transaction. This can often be a challenging process, with complex trails of evidence being relied upon in pursuit of a prosecution. This evidence must also be relied upon in order to conduct an effective defence against accusations of mortgage fraud.
The second category of mortgage fraud is more complex, involving fraudulent transactions in the pursuit of profit carried out with the help of professional enablers. Examples include the acquiring of loans or remortgages at inflated values by non-existent borrowers, the deliberate over-valuation of a company's
property portfolio so that loans can be obtained, or the deliberate masking of a property's true owner by way of complicated corporate structures.
How do the authorities prosecute cases of mortgage fraud?
While criminal prosecutions are regularly pursued in cases of mortgage fraud, recent years have seen an increase in regulatory action being taken by the FSA, which has taken steps to ban mortgage brokers involved in fraudulent transactions. If a mortgage has been obtained fraudulently, the sums acquired will be considered proceeds of crime, and as such will come within the scope of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002. Investigations under POCA may also be forthcoming as a consequence.
If you are the subject of an investigation into mortgage fraud, it is vital to have expert legal advice from the earliest possible stage. The specialist Fraud Solicitors at Wilford Smith are adept at analysing the complex financial transactions involved in mortgage fraud, and will thoroughly investigate sources of finance across multiple accounts and jurisdictions in order to conduct an effective defence on your behalf. When charges of fraud are brought, these will often be accompanied by money laundering charges. In such cases, our team of solicitors can provide detailed analysis and expertise, and are able to call on expert witnesses such as forensic accountants where necessary.
Contact our Mortgage Fraud Defence Solicitors in Sheffield and London Today
Wilford Smith’s Criminal Defence Team takes pride in its reputation for unique representation, giving clients a service that is exceptionally strategic and results driven. Our solicitors appear in court regularly, and with years of experience in handling complex fraud cases on behalf of our clients, we are best placed to advise you on challenging accusations of mortgage fraud. The Fraud Team at Wilford Smith are committed to providing a high-level, client-focused and highly personal service, developing a top-level strategy to ensure the best possible outcome for you in any case.
Our Criminal Defence Solicitors are based in Sheffield and London and provide assistance to clients throughout England and Wales. Contact us today on 01709 828 044 to find out how we can help.