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The Most Common Mortgage and Real Estate Fraud Charges in California

Updated: Apr 22

Mortgage and Real Estate Fraud Charges In California


When an individual or party commits fraud in connection with the purchase, selling, rental, or financing of real estate property, it is known as real estate fraud. Real estate fraud is a felony that can result in jail or prison terms under state and federal laws. This type of fraud can occur at any time during a real estate transaction. Appraisals, closings, and mortgage proceedings are only a few examples. A Criminal Defense Lawyer can help defend you against these charges.


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To punish perpetrators of this crime, states have adopted a variety of legislation and legal theories. There are some of them:

  • stealing under false pretenses

  • Statutes governing foreclosure fraud

  • laws against rent skimming

  • laws pertaining to the filing of forged deeds or records

It's worth noting that the following are some of the most popular types of real estate and mortgage fraud:

  • Foreclosure deception

  • Schemes involving straw buyers

  • Land flipping

  • extortionate lending

Prosecutors in California often prosecute real estate/mortgage fraud charges under the following categories:

  1. Grand theft is prohibited under Penal Code 487 PC.

  2. 2945.4 of the California Civil Code forbids foreclosure fraud.

  3. Rent skimming is illegal under Civil Code 890.

  4. Penal Code 115 PC makes it illegal to file forged papers.

  5. Misdemeanors and felonies are both possible charges under these statutes.


What is the difference between real estate and mortgage fraud?


When one person or company takes advantage of another in a real estate transaction, this is known as real estate or mortgage fraud. It can happen at any point during a transaction, including the:

  1. evaluation

  2. closing

  3. foreclosure

To prosecute perpetrators of these offenses, states use a variety of legislation and legal theories. There are some of them:

  • stealing under false pretenses

  • Foreclosure fraud

  • skimming for rent

  • forged papers or deeds

  • Theft in the guise of a legitimate business

This is a crime in which someone:

  • defrauds someone else of money or property

  • False promises or interpretations are used to do this

Although state laws vary, in order to convict anyone of this crime, a prosecutor must show the following:

  • an accused deceived a real estate owner or mortgage lender on purpose

  • This was accomplished by making a false promise.

  • On the basis of this promise, the "victim" gave the defendant his or her property or assets.


Foreclosure fraud


California mortgage fraud is one of the most common forms of real estate fraud prosecuted in the state. In simple terms, mortgage fraud occurs when a self-proclaimed foreclosure "consultant" claims to be able to delay or avoid a pending foreclosure. More broadly, you commit this form of fraud if you engage in a fraudulent activity involving a foreclosed home or a home that is in the process of foreclosure.


This form of fraud can be seen in a variety of ways, including:

  • Schemes for transferring title

  • a bait and turn strategy

  • Scams involving phantom assistance

  • Shift of ownership

When the following conditions are met, the title is transferred:

  • A homeowner is in danger of losing their house to foreclosure.

  • He is persuaded to sign over the title to the house by a "consultant."

In these cases, the homeowner is advised by the consultant to:

  • He or she will rent the house and stay in it.

  • He will be able to buy it again in the future.

  • However, the consultant ultimately evicts the renter and buys out any remaining equity in the house.


Forging deeds

  • The act of intentionally modifying, making, or using a written document with the intent to defraud is known as a forgery. As a result, California's anti-forgery laws prohibit:

  • attempting to register, record, or file a forged deed

  • submitting a forgery deed

When is it illegal to file a false document in California?


A district attorney must prove the following elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt to successfully prosecute a defendant under this statute:

  • The accused handed over a document to be filed, recorded, or registered with a government agency.

  • When the accused submitted the document, he or she was aware that it was a fake or forged document.

  • The paper was one that could be legally filed if it was genuine.

  • This criminal law covers a broad range of documents, including fishing records and pay stubs. Despite this, courts have determined that the law is not too vague.

Furthermore, many criminal offenses under these laws include the filing of real estate records (e.g., quitclaim deeds, property deeds, and deeds of trusts). Charges may be brought under the following categories in these situations, depending on the type of document involved.


Penal Code 115 PC legal defenses


To counter charges of filing false documents, Criminal Law Attorney may use a variety of legal tactics. This includes demonstrating:

  1. The defendant was unaware that a document was fabricated or falsified.

  2. The accused failed to file a document with a government agency.

  3. The defendant had been wrongfully convicted.


How to Argue a Defense

  • There is no knowledge.

  • Remember that under this act, a defendant is only guilty whether he or she:

  • sent you a document to save.

  • knew the paper was a forgery or a fake

  • This implies that proving that an accused lacked the necessary expertise is still a shield.

  • There is no public office.

  • These laws only apply if a party filed a document with a California government agency (for example, the county recorder's office or the California Department of Motor Vehicles). As a result, a defendant will attempt to refute a PC 115 charge by demonstrating that he did not provide a document to a government agency. Such an individual might have, for example, delivered a document to a private employer or corporation.

  • However, even if the investigation is successful and a document is found to be fraudulent or fabricated, the accused can face charges under a separate law. You can ask your Criminal Defense Lawyer for more details on the matter.

  • Accused falsely

  • People are often wrongly accused of this crime. The following are some of the reasons why "victims" make false allegations of this crime:

  • drama in the home

  • retaliation

  • Conflicts over land

  • As a result, an accused can still argue that he or she was unfairly blamed.

  • What are the consequences?

  • A breach of this provision of the code is considered a felony. The following penalties apply to the offense:

  • imprisonment for up to three years in a jail or prison

  • a fine

  • If a judge may grant probation instead of prison time, it is ineligible if either or more of the following conditions are met:

  • The accused has already been convicted of breaching PC 115.

  • He/she is found guilty of several counts of PC 115 and is found to have caused a gross loss of more than $100,000.

  • It's also worth noting that these court cases can be subject to a few sentencing enhancements.


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