The punishment for mortgage fraud ranges from 12 months to 10 years in prison. More minor offences can result in a suspended sentence. There may also be other adverse consequences, such as a confiscation order. Speak with one of our mortgage fraud solicitors today.
Mortgage fraud lawyer London
Mortgage fraud is a serious crime. Even a ‘little white lie’ to your mortgage company can land you in trouble with the law, while large scale mortgage fraud can lead to a lengthy prison sentence.
If you have been accused of mortgage fraud, it is essential that you speak to a mortgage fraud lawyer. At Ashmans Solicitors, we have a dedicated team of fraud and financial crime solicitors. We help individuals, organisations, professionals and companies who have been accused of mortgage fraud. Contact us now to discuss your case with a mortgage fraud lawyer.
We have offices in London, Leeds, Sheffield, Huddersfield and Dewsbury. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What is mortgage fraud?
Mortgage fraud is when someone uses the mortgage process to defraud a lender or financial institution, with the intention of personal gain. There are many examples of mortgage fraud. Some are ‘opportunistic’, while others involve large-scale mortgage fraud.
Opportunistic mortgage fraud
Opportunistic mortgage fraud is typically carried out by individuals who are hoping to secure a mortgage.
Opportunistic mortgage fraud often involves providing false information on a mortgage application. Examples include exaggerating your income or lying about your employment status. Such lies might seem innocuous and you probably have every intention of keeping up with the mortgage repayments. However, falsifying information in order to secure a mortgage – or to secure additional funds – does amount to mortgage fraud.
There are also cases in which individuals have provided false documents to their mortgage lender as part of the application. Others have been caught lying about the intended use of the property, whereby they say it will be used for residential purposes, when in fact it will be rented out. Again, these types of inaccuracies can all amount to mortgage fraud – even if you think it will have no bearing on the lender in the long-run.
Large-scale mortgage fraud
Large-scale mortgage fraud is typically carried out by organised crime groups. These crimes are complex and often involve several parties, including estate agents, brokers and solicitors.
A common method of large-scale mortgage fraud is to exaggerate the value of a property and secure a mortgage based on the inflated price. So, if a property is purchased for £200,000, it is illegal to request a mortgage of £250,000 and pocket the remaining £50,000. Other examples of large-scale mortgage fraud include ‘flipping’ or re-selling a property shortly after purchase for an inflated price. The proceeds of crime may also be used as a deposit.
For these crimes to succeed, it is often necessary for various professionals to work together. Sometimes, professionals will be unwittingly caught up in the scheme. However, even if you were not aware of the fraud, or actively involved in it, you may still be held liable. This is because professionals – such as solicitors – must take steps to identify fraud and comply with the UK’s anti-money laundering laws.
What is the punishment for mortgage fraud?
If you are being investigated for mortgage fraud, you might want to know what kind of sentence you could receive, if you are found guilty. This is a difficult question to answer because the scope of mortgage fraud is so extensive. A person who lies about their marital status on a mortgage application form will not receive the same punishment as someone who carries out large-scale mortgage fraud.
However, we can tell you that the maximum penalty under the Fraud Act 2006 is:
- 12 months’ imprisonment if convicted on a summary basis
- 10 years’ imprisonment for a conviction on indictment
Therefore, you can go to prison for mortgage fraud, although it is unlikely that you will receive the maximum sentence. In certain circumstances, the judge may even consider that a suspended sentence is appropriate. This means that you serve your sentence in the community, rather than in custody. If you breach the terms of the suspended sentence order – for example, by committing another criminal offence – you will be sent straight to prison.
Ancillary orders and other consequences
Along with a prison sentence, the judge has the option of issuing certain court orders. These are known as ancillary orders. This might include:
- A compensation order – demanding you to pay a set amount of compensation to the victims of your crime
- A confiscation order – demanding you to repay the money you have benefitted from as a result of the crime
- A restraint order – which preserves your assets until the confiscation order has been paid in full
- A financial reporting order – which requires you to submit a report every six months detailing your assets, expenditure and income
- An order demanding you to pay other costs, such as a victims’ surcharge and the prosecution’s costs
A conviction for mortgage fraud will also have other adverse consequences on your life. For example, you will likely find it difficult to secure a mortgage in the future. Your conviction will also be added to a national database. This may make it hard for you to gain future employment.
How will the judge decide my sentence?
There are many factors that the judge takes into consideration when deciding what sentence to hand out for mortgage fraud. These are known as aggravating factors and mitigating factors.
Aggravating factors work against you and will increase the length of the sentence. For instance, if you are considered to be the ring-leader of a criminal organisation, or you have previous convictions, this may persuade the judge to hand out a harsher sentence.
Mitigating factors work in your favour and will decrease the length of the sentence. Of particular interest to the court is whether you show genuine remorse and whether you have a good character. If so, the judge may show more leniency when sentencing you.
Other mitigating factors include:
- You are the sole carer for children/other dependents
- You co-operated with the investigation
- You have a serious medical condition, learning disability or mental disorder
- You were originally participating in legitimate activity
- You were forced to participate in illegal activity
Can I reduce the sentence for mortgage fraud with a guilty plea?
It can also be possible to reduce the length of the sentence by entering a guilty plea. The earlier you enter a guilty plea, the greater the reduction. So, if you plead guilty at the first hearing at the Magistrate’s Court, your sentence could be cut by up to a third. There is a sliding scale, so if you wait until the course of the trial to plead guilty, it may not have any impact on the eventual sentence.
Mortgage fraud lawyer London
The consequences of mortgage fraud are potentially very serious. Also, the matter is not just confined to organised criminal activity. There are cases of everyday family men and women going to prison for mortgage fraud – all because they inflated their income or falsified documents to buy a property.
Whatever the circumstances, if you have been accused of mortgage fraud, please speak to a mortgage fraud lawyer from our team. We can advise you what action to take. If you have been wrongly accused, this must be brought to the attention of the courts. We will submit a solid defence, ensuring your acquittal.
Alternatively, if you have been involved in mortgage fraud – whether knowingly or accidentally – we can devise a strategy to limit the potential consequences. We understand this is a scary situation to be in, but with our skill and expertise, we can achieve a positive outcome. We have a postive track record of defending mortgage fraud allegations, Mortgage fraud case R-v-LF Leeds Crown Court, R-v-NF Bradford Crown Court.
Make an enquiry
If you have been accused of mortgage fraud, call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.