Title Fraud Offense Unveiled by New York Real Estate Lawyer
The legal owner of a property has title to the property in his name. A business or individual may take title to property when a deed is signed transferring the property’s ownership. Title fraud involves interfering in some way with this process to improperly take title to a property or to change the legal owner of a property without authority.
Participation in any type of title fraud can lead to criminal charges at either the state or the federal level, depending upon the fraud scheme. Bukh Law Firm can represent you if you have been accused of title fraud.
Our experienced real estate fraud lawyers know the available options for defenses and understand the complex laws that apply to title scams. We are here to put our legal knowledge to work to help you get the best outcome you can when you have been charged with a serious crime.
What is Title Fraud?
Real estate title fraud can involve improperly taking title to a property. This can be done by convincing the rightful owner to sign title over with false promises, or by impersonating the rightful owner of the property.
After stealing the identity of a property owner, the property may be sold to an unsuspecting purchaser. The buyer moves in, or tries to move in, and a dispute arises between the actual owner of the property and the buyer who has become caught up in the title fraud scam. Both parties may suffer financial loss, and the rightful owner will have his title to the property subject to mortgages that the new buyer has put on the title.
Making false promises to a homeowner to have him sign over the title can also lead to other types of real estate fraud including equity stripping. Regardless of the specific type of title fraud that takes place, federal charges for bank fraud may be filed if the scheme is viewed as part of an attempt to defraud a financial institution and/or obtain money or property belonging to a bank or lender.
What is Title Insurance Fraud?
Title insurance fraud is another type of fraud crime that is closely related to title fraud. Title insurance is typically purchased as part of a standard real estate transaction. A title search is performed to ensure that the seller has legitimate and clean title, and an insurance company then insures the real estate transaction. A new buyer is protected from financial loss if it turns out there are problems with the title, as the title insurance company pays for resulting damages.
Title insurance fraud can take many forms including misappropriation of title insurance premiums without issuing a title policy and intentionally misrepresenting title defects so the title underwriter becomes burdened with the losses.
Numerous laws and regulations exist to try to prevent title insurance fraud including two model acts developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissions (NAIC): Model Law #230 and Model Law #628. Although these model laws have not been widely implemented, many states have variations of the Model laws regulating title insurance companies and requiring licensing; oversight by insurance departments; and certain provisions in underwriting contracts.
Penalties for Title Insurance Fraud
Title insurance fraud penalties vary depending upon whether the fraud affected a financial institution, a title company, or private individuals or businesses who are involved in fraudulent transactions.
Under New York law, a defendant could be charged with insurance fraud in the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth degree (Penal Code Sections 176.10-176.30). A defendant in New York could also be charged with other state-level offenses including aggravated insurance fraud; residential mortgage fraud; criminal impersonation in the first or second degree; a first or second degree scheme to defraud; first, second, or third degree identity theft; and aggravated identity theft.
At the federal level, a defendant could be indicted for bank fraud, wire fraud, postal fraud, conspiracy, perjury, and a host of other criminal charges. Bank, wire, and postal fraud alone carry potential penalties of 30 years imprisonment and a $1 million fine when a financial institution is affected by a fraud scheme.
Getting Help from a Real Estate Title Fraud Lawyer
Whether you are charged with title company fraud or any other type of title fraud, you need to understand your rights within the criminal justice system. Arkady Bukh will try to help you avoid being found guilty, or can help you to try to negotiate a plea agreement that may lessen the penalties associated with conviction.
To learn more, contact a New York title fraud lawyer today for help.