Las Vegas Straw Buyer Fraud Defense Lawyers
Mortgage Fraud Attorney Serving Nevada
On June 17, 2010, the United States Department of Justice announced the results of a nationwide mortgage fraud task force code-named “Operation Stolen Dreams.” As of that date, the operation had netted 1,215 criminal defendants nationwide, including 485 arrests, who are allegedly responsible for more than $2.3 billion in losses.
Criminal charges had been filed against 123 of those defendants in Southern Nevada. In other words, over 10% of the criminal charges filed nationwide in Operation Stolen Dreams originated here in Southern Nevada.
The local United States Attorney’s Office has indicated that they aim to continue to identify and prosecute those who orchestrated “straw buyer” schemes and reaped fraudulent gains through mortgage fraud. If you have been accused of straw buyer mortgage fraud, the experienced attorneys at the Christiansen Trial Lawyers are here to stand up for your rights.
What Is a "Straw Buyer" Mortgage Fraud Scheme?
A “straw buyer” scheme is one of the most common forms of mortgage fraud. In a straw buyer scheme, one person purchases a house on behalf of another person who would not normally qualify for a home loan. The straw buyer either has good credit or falsifies credit information to qualify for the loan.
Often the straw buyer gets a percentage of the proceeds of the loan, and the actual borrower is either left with the debt or lets the house go into foreclosure. In many cases, the people involved will sell the property to new straw buyers, and the scheme will start all over again.
Proving Criminal Intent in Straw Buyer Schemes
It is easy for an innocent person to get caught up in a straw buyer scheme. In many cases, the perpetrators of such schemes will recruit victims who they manipulate to help them execute mortgage fraud.
To convict you of fraud, the prosecution must prove criminal intent. It may very well be the case that you had no knowledge that criminal activity was taking place. We will carefully examine the details of your case to determine if you had no intention of committing a crime.
- You were tricked into falsifying income and making other false statements
- The mortgage application was handled by someone else and you had no knowledge it was handled fraudulently
- You may have mistakenly made a false statement
- Your identity was stolen and used by someone else to falsify a mortgage document
Depending upon the criminal charge and the amount of loss alleged, mortgage fraud defendants can potentially face up to 30 years in prison per count if convicted. At Christiansen Trial Lawyers our attorneys have extensive experience representing individuals charged with mortgage fraud, including persons charged as a result of Operation Stolen Dreams.
How Do We Defend Straw Buyer and Mortgage Fraud Cases?
It is possible to conduct straw buyer schemes in many different ways. As a result, the best defenses to fight straw-buying allegations vary depending on each case's specifics and the charges brought by the prosecution.
Below are a few ways to defend yourself against Nevada allegations of straw buying schemes:
- No intention of defrauding. If the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant had the intent to defraud, the defendant shouldn't be convicted of a straw buyer scheme, regardless of whether they are charged with bank-, wire-, or mail-fraud. The prosecution should drop the charges as long as the defense attorney can demonstrate that the defendant did not mean to deceive anyone, was tricked into making a false statement, made an honest mistake, and had no intent to harm anyone.
- There is insufficient evidence to convict. It is the prosecution's burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty in order for the court to convict them. In that case, if the defense attorney can show that the state's evidence is insufficient, inconsistent, and unreliable to support a conviction for engaging in a straw buyer scheme, the case should be dismissed.
- Unlawful police search. Searches and seizures of evidence by the U.S. Marshals Service must not violate the Constitution. In Nevada, a defense attorney could file a motion to suppress evidence with the court if the cops may have conducted an illegal search in a straw buyer case. The prosecution may not have enough proof to hold the defendant criminally liable if the judge grants the motion and dismisses all evidence obtained from the faulty search.
Christiansen is Ready to Be at Your Defense
If you are a straw buyer, broker, lender, real estate agent or investor who is under investigation or have been charged with mortgage fraud by the federal government, please contact our office immediately to arrange a free consultation. A knowledgeable attorney is essential if you are facing a serious legal problem.
Christiansen Trial Lawyers have over 50 years of experience helping people with personal injury and criminal defense matters. As a law firm serving clients throughout Nevada, we represent clients of all backgrounds. In addition, we represent people who have been in trouble with the law while visiting Las Vegas from other states and countries. This means that we are prepared to assist you.