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Identifying Elements Necessary for a Real Estate Fraud Charge in the State of California

When a person or group of people have made a misrepresentation or have otherwise used false information to exploit another during a real estate purchase or sale, this is known as real estate fraud. Most cases involving real estate fraud also involve fraud involving mortgage loans. For the most part, real estate fraud is a wide-ranging term that could involve many stages of the real estate transaction, which include the following:

  • The appraisal process,
  • Drafting the contract,
  • Closing procedures,
  • And more.

Identifying Factors of Real Estate Fraud

Real estate fraud is generally categorized in two key categories: lender and professional fraud or borrower fraud.

  1. Lender and Professional Fraud

Lender and professional fraud involve one party gaining some form of profit during the real estate transaction. Common forms involve, but are not limited to the following:

  • Property flipping or other similar questionable real estate practices
  • Misrepresentation with respect to professional credentials and licensing
  • False advertising or a misrepresentation of property or house information
  • Identify theft that could include a wide-range of charges including using the borrower’s personal information for personal advancement
  1. Borrower Fraud

Borrower fraud essentially involves the individual who is attempting to obtain a property title.  This type of fraud could involve the following:

  • Producing misrepresentations with regard to a person’s credit
  • Falsifying loan documents and applications
  • Omitting critical information during the real estate transaction

Potential Criminal Penalties

Beside a tarnished reputation, real estate fraud can result in serious criminal consequences. Dependent on state laws, they could involve the following:

  • Extensive criminal fines,
  • Long probation periods,
  • Time in jail or federal imprisonment, and/or
  • Criminal restitution for the damages and/or losses accrued by the victim(s) 

Challenging the Charges

When a person or party is charged with real estate fraud, the following must be applicable:

Evidence will need to support that the person or party involved had a level of intent to commit the fraud.

This generally means that a person committing an unintentional mistake might not face criminal charges for real estate fraud. In most cases, real estate fraud will involve a shared collaboration between the lender and the borrower to knowingly achieve the fraud.

Seek Expert Legal Support for Your Defense

Contingent on the facts of each case, real estate fraud could involve a criminal misdemeanor or a felony charge. Felony charges in the State of California usually carry more serious implications and punishments to the accused. Repeat offenses will usually lead to increased criminal penalties.

If you are being accused of real estate fraud, you should know that this could lead to very serious criminal charges. It is in your best interest to consider hiring a skilled attorney who is experienced in real estate fraud cases. A proficient attorney will ensure that your legal rights are upheld in a criminal court.

The attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine, & Knox, LLP., are experts in the field of real estate fraud cases. When it comes to criminal charges, it is imperative to seek legal expertise promptly; obtain expert legal advice today.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.