Escrow Fraud Defense Attorney Helps Understand the Charge
Definition of Escrow Fraud
In real estate transactions, it is standard for money to be put into escrow. Typically, a buyer puts a deposit down when an offer is made on a home in order to show a good faith effort to continue with the transaction. This money is put in escrow and held by a neutral third party before it is either returned to the buyer if the transaction does not occur or delivered to the seller when the sale is completed.
Money may also be placed into escrow by buyers or sellers for other reasons during the real estate transaction. For example, if a pool is part of the home purchase but cannot be inspected during a winter sale, a seller may place money in escrow until summer when the pool is opened and inspected. The seller’s money is returned if there are no problems, or is paid to the buyer to make repairs.
While placing money in escrow is essential to facilitate the sale of real estate, it also creates the potential for escrow fraud to occur. If you are accused of escrow fraud, you may be charged with a federal crime by a U.S. Attorney or by a state-level crime by a prosecutor in the New York area.
The escrow fraud lawyer at Bukh Law Firm have represented clients facing both state and federal charges and can provide you with legal guidance and advice after you have been accused of violating the law. To learn more about your options and to get an advocate on your side as you respond to accusations of escrow fraud, contact Bukh Law Firm today.
What is Escrow Fraud?
Real estate escrow fraud takes many forms. Some examples include:
- Writing a counterfeit escrow check and then asking for some money back for a family emergency or other necessary financial obligation. The counterfeit check does not clear, but the money may have already been paid out.
- Theft of escrow deposits using forged escrow instructions.
- Falsifying HUD-1 statements.
- Misuse of buyer’s escrow funds, such as an escrow agency investing those funds in risky investments instead of maintaining the funds in a safe account.
- Multiple transaction escrow fraud. Funds are deposited for multiple sales. A seller seeks verification of deposits, but the investor enters into some transactions without telling the escrow agent. The escrow agent verifies funds, but the escrow accounts have inadequate funds to complete all transactions and some sales are bound for default.
These are just a few of many examples of escrow fraud. Closing agents, escrow services, buyers, and sellers may all potentially participate in escrow fraud.
Penalties for Escrow Fraud
Under New York law, escrow fraud could lead to charges for theft and larceny; residential mortgage fraud; identity theft; participation in a scheme to defraud; issuing a bad check; and a host of other criminal offenses. Under federal law, a defendant could be charged with crimes including bank fraud, wire fraud, and postal fraud.
Federal penalties generally tend to be much more serious than state-level criminal penalties. Wire and mail fraud involve using any the postal service or any type of wire communications to make false statements, false promises, or material misrepresentations as part of a scheme to defraud. These offenses alone can result in 20 years imprisonment, or 30 years incarceration and a maximum $1 million fine when a financial institution is defrauded.
The FBI and other federal agencies frequently become involved when escrow fraud takes place because financial institutions and escrow agencies have money and political clout. Being investigated by a federal agency or charged with a federal crime is going to change your life, and you need to fight for your freedom and future.
A New York Escrow Fraud Lawyer Can Help
Bukh Law Firm has represented many clients in real estate escrow fraud cases and we can put our legal knowledge to work to represent you whether you are indicted for a federal crime or charged on the state level. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more.