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Kevin O'Flaherty

Mortgage fraud in Illinois is a complex and far-reaching issue that can have a significant impact on both borrowers and lenders. Homeowners need to understand the various types of Illinois mortgage fraud schemes, the key players involved, and the legal consequences of such crimes. By becoming more aware of the risks and the strategies to protect themselves, homeowners can achieve greater financial security and peace of mind.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of Illinois mortgage fraud, exploring the various schemes, the role of the Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law and Mortgage Fraud Task Force, and the Criminal Mortgage Rescue Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. We will also discuss reporting and prevention tips and provide insights into the legal consequences and defense strategies for those facing Illinois mortgage fraud charges.

Overview of Mortgage Fraud in Illinois

Mortgage fraud is a serious crime involving the intentional deception of a financial entity to obtain a mortgage loan that would not have been granted using accurate information. A mortgage fraud scheme is considered a federal crime, putting it under the jurisdiction of the United States government. Consequently, they face severe penalties for violations of the law. These schemes can take many forms, including:

  • Simple misrepresentations on loan applications
  • Identity theft
  • Straw buyer schemes
  • Equity skimming
  • Foreclosure rescue scams
  • Appraisal fraud
  • Illegal property flipping

These schemes can be orchestrated by professional fraudsters and often target distressed property owners.

The consequences of mortgage fraud in Illinois can be severe, with significant financial penalties and lengthy prison sentences, especially when violations of the property tax code are involved. Those charged with mortgage fraud should consult a knowledgeable federal crimes defense attorney to protect their rights and strive for the most favorable possible outcome.

Types of Mortgage Fraud Schemes

Some prevalent mortgage fraud schemes in Illinois include:

  1. Misrepresentation on loan applications: This refers to the deliberate provision of incorrect or deceptive information on a mortgage application to receive a loan.
  1. Exaggerated appraisals: This involves the intentional overvaluation of a property’s worth during the appraisal process to deceive lenders into granting larger mortgage loans than the property actually warrants.
  1. Fabricated properties: This scheme involves the creation of fake properties or the misrepresentation of existing properties to obtain fraudulent mortgage loans.

Fictitious properties are employed in mortgage fraud schemes through a variety of fraudulent tactics. For instance, a homeowner’s accomplice, known as a straw buyer, may make a fictitious purchase offer with the intent to reduce the property’s fair market value. Additionally, a builder with unsold units may utilize fraudulent tactics to create fictitious loans, which often involve fraudulent appraisals, falsified loan documentation, and exaggerated buyer income.

Key Players in Mortgage Fraud

In Illinois, mortgage fraud typically involves real estate developers, loan originators, lawyers, and individuals implicated in fraudulent activities. Borrowers may engage in activities such as identity theft, income and asset falsification, and overstatement of income or asset values on their financial statements to qualify for a loan. These actions are intended to deceive mortgage lenders by providing false information in order to obtain a mortgage loan.

Lenders may contribute to mortgage fraud in Illinois by:

  • Offering financial assistance to vulnerable homeowners with the intention to defraud
  • Engaging in loan flipping
  • Engaging in property flipping
  • Using straw buyers
  • Participating in appraisal fraud
  • Inflating the buyer’s income

These activities can lead to fraudulent loan documents and appraisals, potentially resulting in mortgage fraud charges.

Real estate agents may also be implicated in mortgage fraud by aiding buyers in falsifying their credit reports, salary, or employment history to qualify for a home loan, or by participating in illegal property flipping or foreclosure rescue schemes. It is important for borrowers to be aware of these risks and take measures to protect themselves.

Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law and Mortgage Fraud Task Force

In Illinois, the Mortgage Foreclosure Law and Mortgage Fraud Task Force collaborate to fight mortgage fraud and safeguard consumers. The Illinois Mortgage Rescue Fraud Act is a law that safeguards homeowners facing the possibility of foreclosure or non-payment of taxes from fraudulent activities. The Mortgage Fraud Task Force, on the other hand, was established to actively investigate claims of mortgage fraud and ensure that professionals and businesses participating in Illinois residential real estate deals adhere to the necessary regulations.

Together, these two entities collaborate to address fraudulent practices, enforce regulations, and protect homeowners from foreclosure rescue scams. The Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law provides legal provisions and enforcement mechanisms for this purpose, working in conjunction with other laws such as the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Additionally, the Homeowners’ Referral Helpline is available to assist homeowners in avoiding mortgage fraud and reporting any fraudulent activities.

Role of the Task Force

The Illinois Mortgage Fraud Task Force:

  • Enforces state regulations and rules related to the mortgage industry
  • Curbs fraudulent activities
  • Investigates and prosecutes those involved in mortgage fraud

The task force’s mandate is to actively investigate claims of mortgage fraud and safeguard Illinois homebuyers.

To combat mortgage fraud effectively, the task force collaborates closely with federal and state agencies like the FBI and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, investigating and prosecuting mortgage fraud cases. They collaborate by sharing information and resources, employing various techniques such as enforcing state laws and regulations pertaining to mortgage industry practices, impeding fraudulent activities, and working in partnership with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Distressed Property Purchasers and Consultants

The Illinois Mortgage Rescue Fraud Act regulates distressed property purchasers and consultants to prevent fraudulent activities and protect homeowners. A distressed property is a residential property in distress, usually due to its owner being past due on their mortgage payments and/or not paying their taxes. This includes properties that are at risk of being repossessed because of non-payment. A distressed property consultant is a person who provides services to homeowners in order to prevent them from losing their home. This includes stopping foreclosure, restoring credit due to a foreclosure or tax sale, and helping them get a loan even when they are in foreclosure. Their services come at a fee..

In Illinois, any contract between a homeowner and a distressed property purchaser must be in writing and signed by both parties, with the purchaser entitled to possession of the property 30 days after the sale is confirmed. Distressed property consultants in Illinois are accountable for:

  • Providing assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure or loss of their home due to non-payment of taxes, including information on quit claim deed
  • Furnishing information on accessible options and their consequences
  • Explicitly stating the nature of their services in a written agreement

They cannot receive compensation until after fully executing each service.

Criminal Mortgage Rescue Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act

In Illinois, the Criminal Mortgage Rescue Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act criminalizes intentional violations of any provision listed in Section 50 of the Act, aiming to protect consumers from fraudulent mortgage rescue schemes. The primary components of the Act include penalties for criminal mortgage rescue fraud and deceptive business practices.

This Act covers mortgage rescue schemes such as phony mortgage relief schemes, foreclosure rescue schemes, and criminal mortgage rescue fraud. It also provides protections for consumers against deceptive practices, such as fraud, false pretenses, concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact in business dealings or transactions.

Elements of Criminal Mortgage Rescue Fraud

Criminal mortgage rescue fraud involves false promises of assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure, often resulting in the loss of property or equity. These schemes can take various forms, such as:

  • Foreclosure rescue or loan modification scams
  • Fraudulent misrepresentations or omissions of material facts
  • Other financially motivated offenses related to residential and commercial real estate.

Some examples of mortgage rescue schemes include equity skimming, where a person or group purchases a property, typically at a low price, and then diverts the revenue generated by the property for purposes other than property maintenance or mortgage payments.

Another example is the “bait and switch” scheme, where homeowners are deceived into signing documents that they believe will help them bring their mortgage up to date, but in reality, these documents transfer ownership of their house or result in them accepting a suboptimal loan.

Penalties Under the Deceptive Business Practices Act

The Deceptive Business Practices Act in Illinois stipulates that any violation of the Act is considered an unlawful practice, subject to punishment as a Class A misdemeanor. The potential penalties for violations include civil penalties not exceeding $10,000 per violation, injunctive relief, and restitution. A second or subsequent violation may be considered a Class 4 felony.

Restitution under the Deceptive Business Practices Act in Illinois is provided to those who have been victims of unfair or deceptive acts or practices. This award of restitution is given priority over civil penalties imposed by the court, allowing those who have been victims of fraud to receive compensation for the harm they have endured.

Reporting and Preventing Mortgage Fraud in Illinois

In Illinois, reporting and preventing mortgage fraud is vital to safeguard homeowners and maintain the integrity of the mortgage industry. By understanding loan terms, safeguarding personal information, and remaining vigilant when working with lenders, homeowners can reduce their risk of falling victim to mortgage fraud.

The Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation are the designated agencies for handling mortgage fraud reports in Illinois. By promptly reporting any suspicious activities or concerns, homeowners can help combat the problem of mortgage fraud and potentially prevent others from falling victim to these schemes.

How to Report Mortgage Fraud

To report mortgage fraud in Illinois, individuals can contact the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, local law enforcement, or federal agencies like the FBI. The Attorney General’s Homeowner Helpline (866) 544-7151 can be utilized, or a complaint can be submitted online through their website. When reporting mortgage fraud to federal agencies such as the FBI, individuals can call the FBI’s toll-free number 1-800-CALLFBI (1-800-225-5324) or visit their website to submit tips and public leads.

When reporting mortgage fraud, individuals may be asked to submit copies of any relevant documentation related to the fraudulent transaction. The exact forms or documents required may differ depending on the reporting agency or organization, so it is advisable to contact the appropriate agency, such as the FBI or the lender, for instructions on reporting mortgage fraud and any required forms or documentation.

Tips for Prevention

Illinois homeowners can prevent mortgage fraud by being aware of warning signs such as:

  • Loan flipping
  • Property flipping
  • Straw buyers
  • Appraisal fraud
  • Inflated appraisals
  • Foreclosure scams
  • False identity or income fraud

Regularly reviewing credit reports can also help individuals detect any signs of identity theft or fraudulent activity quickly, allowing them to take immediate action to report and prevent mortgage fraud.

Furthermore, it is essential for Illinois residents to work with reputable real estate professionals, verifying their licenses and membership with Illinois REALTORS® and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). By being proactive and vigilant, homeowners can protect themselves from mortgage fraud and the devastating consequences it can bring.

Legal Consequences and Defense Strategies for Mortgage Fraud Charges

In Illinois, the legal consequences of mortgage fraud can range from misdemeanors to felonies, with fines and imprisonment varying based on the amount of money involved and the specifics of the offense. As such, it is crucial for those facing mortgage fraud charges to seek experienced legal representation to ensure the best possible outcome for their case.

Defending against mortgage fraud charges requires a thorough understanding of the legal system and the development of a strong defense strategy. Common defense strategies include:

  • Lack of intent
  • No reliance
  • No damages
  • Duress
  • Diminished mental capacity
  • Statute of limitations

Consultation with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is essential in determining the most appropriate defense strategy for each individual case.

Criminal Penalties for Mortgage Fraud

In Illinois, the criminal penalties for mortgage fraud can vary depending on the amount of money involved and the specific case circumstances. Mortgage fraud is generally considered a felony offense, with penalties ranging from incarceration to significant fines. The exact penalties may differ depending on the amount of money involved in the fraud.

In some cases, a single count of federal mortgage fraud can carry up to $1 million in fines. The maximum imprisonment period for federal mortgage fraud in Illinois is up to 30 years. It is essential for individuals facing mortgage fraud charges to seek legal representation to navigate the complexities of the legal system and achieve the best possible outcome for their case.

Defending Against Mortgage Fraud Charges

Defending against mortgage fraud charges necessitates experienced legal representation due to the complex legal issues often involved, requiring a thorough understanding of the mortgage industry’s intricacies. A mortgage fraud attorney can strive to achieve a dismissal or acquittal for individuals facing mortgage fraud charges.

Some common defense strategies for individuals facing mortgage fraud charges include:

  • Lack of intent
  • No reliance
  • No damages
  • Duress
  • Diminished mental capacity
  • Statute of limitations

By working closely with a criminal defense attorney, individuals can develop the most effective defense strategy for their case and increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome.


In conclusion, mortgage fraud in Illinois is a complex and far-reaching issue that can have a significant impact on both borrowers and lenders. By understanding the various types of mortgage fraud schemes, the key players involved, and the legal consequences of such crimes, homeowners can achieve greater financial security and peace of mind.

It is crucial for homeowners in Illinois to remain vigilant, report suspicious activities, and work with reputable professionals to prevent mortgage fraud. By taking these steps and staying informed about the risks and strategies to protect themselves, homeowners can ensure their financial well-being and avoid falling victim to these devastating schemes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I report mortgage fraud in Illinois?

If you suspect mortgage fraud in Illinois, contact the Mortgage Fraud Task Force on the IDFPR website or call 1-844-768-1713. You can also fill out the OAG Hotline Reporting Form online or call the toll-free Hotline at 1-855-217-1895 to report your allegations.

What is the mortgage Rescue fraud Act in Illinois?

The Illinois Mortgage Rescue Fraud Act protects homeowners facing foreclosure or tax non-payment from being taken advantage of by consultants who offer false promises to save their home. It safeguards people who are in financial distress.

What state is the riskiest for mortgage fraud?

New York and Florida are the riskiest states for mortgage fraud, with year-over-year decreases of 6.23% and 1.08%, respectively.

Do people get caught for mortgage fraud?

Yes, people can and do get caught for mortgage fraud; the potential consequences include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million.

What can happen if you commit mortgage fraud?

Committing mortgage fraud can have serious consequences, including potential restitution, fines, and imprisonment. If convicted under U.S. federal and state laws, an individual may face up to 30 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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