Whether bankruptcy fraud is committed in Virginia, it can be a federal offense that may result in a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to five years. The maximum penalties for this offense will likely be pursued by federal prosecutors according to federal sentencing formulas and a mandate to investigate and strictly enforce federal laws in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and all other jurisdictions throughout the country.
Therefore, it is imperative that you seek out a Virginia federal bankruptcy fraud lawyer who has the resources and know-how to defend you in federal court and to be involved in all pre-indictment activities in order to best protect your rights.
Commonly referred to as a “white collar crime,” bankruptcy fraud is one of a series of serious federal offenses, including the following:
According to federal law, white collar crimes are “illegal acts characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust; which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence.” Individuals and organizations can commit them to “obtain money, property, or services; to avoid the payment or loss of money or services; or to secure personal or business advantage.” According to the FBI, white collar crimes are conservatively estimated to amass an annual cost of more than $300 billion to the American economy.
Simply put, if you knowingly make a false statement on a bankruptcy filing, you can be accused of bankruptcy fraud. It is also a crime to knowingly conceal assets from the bankruptcy court, or a bankruptcy trustee, if done in hopes of keeping your true worth away from creditors.
Also, you need a Virginia federal bankruptcy fraud lawyer to help defend against these charges, as opposed to a bankruptcy lawyer (who most likely helped you through the separate bankruptcy proceedings and paperwork.)
Non-disclosure of assets in your bankruptcy petition is bankruptcy fraud in its most common form. However, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to show you committed this fraud intentionally and willfully. If it can be proven that you made a simple error or mistake, your attorney can argue that no fraud exists.
Bankruptcy fraud is a unique offense. Most people who declare bankruptcy are already working closely with a lawyer to prepare their filings. A bankruptcy attorney should explain what you can – and cannot – do with when listing your assets.
If, however, you have opted to defend yourself from bankruptcy fraud, or you have received substandard legal representation, you may find yourself embroiled in a situation that can quickly spin out of control. Similarly, though it is common to first suspect your bankruptcy attorney as being directly or indirectly involved in the alleged fraud, the foundation of the charges against you may have been laid years before you filed your bankruptcy petition, and could involve a party you may not even suspect.
An attorney experienced in representing clients facing bankruptcy fraud charges will know how to conduct an extensive defense investigation to determine what parties may be responsible for you recent legal woes.
One of the most common forms of bankruptcy fraud involves loan or mortgage application fraud. Not that long ago, when many people were qualifying for home loans by way of federal guarantees to lending institutions, many bank and mortgage company officials encouraged (and sometimes directly assisted) loan applicants to misrepresent, and in some cases, falsify their income and other vital information in order to get their mortgage applications approved.
The primary motive was income for the institution and commissions for those who helped in the application process.
Most of these loans included an adjustable (or balloon) rate, which caused rates to jump to the point of virtually doubling the monthly payment. Many home owners couldn’t keep up with the payments, which eventually led to numerous bankruptcy filings under Chapter 11. Regrettably, the financial institution (or the company that purchased the loan) would frequently evade any responsibility for their part in the alleged fraud, and then become a hostile creditor.
This scenario could lead to you being charged in federal court for mortgage or bank fraud, even if:
It is disconcerting that many of these lending institutions continue to escape criminal charges for their part in such frauds, even as hundreds of thousands of individuals have been harmed by their practices and are left paying for the lending institution’s greed, both financially and criminally. A federal bankruptcy fraud lawyer will have the experience and resources to build a strong defense for you in federal court.
If you have been charged with – or are under investigation for – bankruptcy fraud, it is crucial that you immediately seek out informed federal defense counsel to determine your best options. Since virtually all bankruptcy fraud cases are a federal issue – and most mortgages are guaranteed with federal funds – you will likely be required to answer these charges in federal court.
If you – or someone you know – are currently facing federal bankruptcy fraud charges, you must consult a well-qualified defense attorney as soon as possible. Whether you have been charged or you are aware that you’re the subject of a federal investigation, you will need the assistance of a federal bankruptcy fraud lawyer in Virginia who is intimately familiar with the federal court system and who understands the best avenues of defense against these charges.
Contact Karin Riley Porter so she can investigate your case and help you decide upon the best defense strategy.
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