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Mortgage Loan Fraud

Put simply, mortgage loan fraud involve situations where home buyers and/or lenders falsify information in order to obtain a new or larger loan for a home. Some of the more common practices involving this type of fraud include:

Equity Stripping

After buying your home on credit, you build up equity. You want to refinance the debt and perhaps consolidate some bills. You find a refinance deal – but the fees are high. Sometimes the loan broker will tell you that you can get a loan, even though you know your income is just not enough to keep up with the monthly payments. The lender encourages you to "pad" your income on your application form to help get the loan approved—which it is. This is classic “equity stripping” and it is illegal.

The "Home Improvement" Loan

A contractor calls or knocks on your door and offers to install a new roof or remodel your kitchen at a price that sounds reasonable. You tell him you're interested, but can't afford it. He tells you it's no problem-he can arrange financing through a lender he knows. You agree to the project, and the contractor begins work. At some point after the contractor begins, you are asked to sign a lot of papers. The papers may be blank or the lender may rush you to sign before you have time to read what you've been given. The contractor threatens to leave the work on your house unfinished if you don't sign. You sign the papers. Only later, you realize that the papers you signed are a home equity loan. The interest rate, points and fees seem very high. To make matters worse, the work on your home isn't done right or hasn't been completed, and the contractor, who may have been paid by the lender, has little interest in completing the work to your satisfaction.

Credit Insurance Packing

You’ve just agreed to a mortgage on terms you think you can afford. At closing, the lender gives you papers to sign that include charges for credit insurance or other “benefits” that you did not ask for and do not want. The lender hopes you don't notice this, and that you just sign the loan papers where you are asked to sign. The lender doesn’t explain exactly how much extra money this will cost you each month on your loan. If you do notice, you’re afraid that if you ask questions or object, you might not get the loan. The lender may tell you that this insurance comes with the loan, making you think that it comes at no additional cost. Or, if you object, the lender may even tell you that if you want the loan without the insurance, the loan papers will have to be rewritten, that it could take several days, and that the manager may reconsider the loan altogether. If you agree to buy the insurance, you really are paying extra for the loan by buying a product you may not want or need.

Mortgage Servicing Abuses

After you get a mortgage, you receive a letter from your lender saying that your monthly payments will be higher than you expected. The lender says that your payments include escrow for taxes and insurance even though you arranged to pay those items yourself with the lender’s okay. Later, a message from the lender says you are being charged late fees. But you know your payments were on time. Or, you may receive a message saying that you failed to maintain required property insurance and the lender is buying more costly insurance at your expense. Other charges that you don’t understand-like legal fees-are added to the amount you owe, increasing your monthly payments or the amount you owe at the end of the loan term. The lender doesn’t provide you with an accurate or complete account of these charges. You ask for a payoff statement to refinance with another lender and receive a statement that's inaccurate or incomplete. The lender's actions make it almost impossible to determine how much you’ve paid or how much you owe. You may pay more than you owe.

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