Mortgage fraud can take many forms

For most people, buying a home is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make.  But the stress of meeting bank standards for a loan can put a lot of pressure on a potential home buyer, a mortgage banker, appraiser, or a broker involved in the transaction.  Fudging facts to make a deal work in return for a considerable pay day is a constant concern.

Illegally representing information on paperwork for a home loan constitutes mortgage fraud.  It is sometimes known by other names including bank fraud, wire fraud or conspiracy.

Because crimes like these have become more prevalent than ever, in 2009, the federal government enacted The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, expanding the enforcement powers concerning mortgage fraud laws.  Federal penalties under FERA can now reach up to $1 million in fines and up to a 30-year prison sentence.  Those who are convicted of mortgage fraud may also be liable for monetary damages if any are suffered by a lender.

Mortgage fraud attorneys are no strangers when it comes to defending clients for various types of mortgage fraud, which can include:

Property flipping –involves buying a house, having it appraised at an inflated and false value, and them promptly selling it.

Loan documentation fraud – takes place when an applicant submits altered or forged financial documents such as paystubs or tax returns.

Straw buyers – a buyer uses another person’s name and credit history to purchase a home while remaining hidden.

Stolen identity – a form of identity theft where a person’s name and credit history are used without their knowledge.

Inflated appraisal – an appraiser colludes with a mortgage broker to raise the appraisal value that will make it possible to match the buyer’s offer.

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves the cities of Phonix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.

The basics of embezzlement

Embezzlement is a complicated matter.  Being entrusted with the financial aspects of a business can open the door to many possible accusations claiming financial abuse by a business owner against an employee.

With the help of an experienced embezzlement lawyer, a defendant has many possible avenues to have a case dropped or charges lessened.  This is especially true where many people may have access to a business’s money and/or there is not a clear path to a single bank account where the missing money may have been deposited.

In addition, embezzlement may either be a misdemeanor or a felony.  At a trial, the judge will pay particular attention to the value of the amount that was taken and that will tend to influence how much of a punishment to dole out.  Cases involving $400 or less are generally treated as misdemeanors.  Anything over that amount is probably going to be charged as a felony.

In cases of embezzlement, fraudulent intent must be proven.  This means that a defendant had the intent to take funds or property without the consent of the owner and convert them in a way that is inconsistent with what the owner wanted.  For example, a stockbroker who skims money off the top of a brokerage account to use for their own gain would be consistent with fraudulent intent.  If a person takes another’s property but believes they have the right to use and convert that property, and they can prove it, they will not be proven guilty of embezzlement.

It’s important to remember that the primary motivation for a victim is to get their money back.  This may leave the door open to offer restitution to make the victim whole again, and that could lead to a reduced sentence if convicted of an embezzlement charge. In some cases, jail time may be avoided altogether.

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.

An attorney is an integral part of helping you stop domestic violence

Arizona has broad and aggressive laws when it comes to prosecuting domestic violence abuse cases.

Many people think of domestic abuse as a physical confrontation between two family members; it is actually much more than that.  All that is required for a domestic violence dispute is if there is a qualifying victim.  That can include a spouse, child, parent, an elderly relative, or a sibling.

Domestic violence is much more than a physical altercation.  It can include threats and intimidation, stalking, kidnapping, economic deprivation, trespassing and harassment, assault with a deadly weapon, and many other situations.

Retaining a highly experienced domestic violence abuse lawyer is especially important because state law does not allow a victim to drop charges.  The case will be prosecuted unless the district attorney decides they do not want to press charges.  This action must be approved by a judge.

Because domestic violence cases are among the most emotionally charged types of cases, a domestic violence abuse lawyer will be able to remove the emotional component on their client’s behalf, allowing for clear-headed thinking that will take the best interests of the client into account.

A lawyer can assist victims of domestic violence in many ways.

Emergency protective orders – A victim can apply for protection from abuse in an official capacity.

Restraining order – When the threat of physical violence exists, an attorney can help secure a restraining order to temporarily keep an individual from approaching or contacting the person specified in the restraining order.

Custody or spousal support orders – These may be issued or modified to further protect family members.

Address Confidentiality Program – A lawyer can assist a victim by helping them get a substitute address to shield their location.

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.

The charges against you with credit card fraud

In an increasingly electronic and virtual society, the rise of credit card fraud has been significant.  If you have been charged with such a crime, you’ll need to retain the services of an experienced credit card fraud attorney as soon as possible, because the consequences can be severe.

There are many different types of offenses a person can be charged with in relation to credit card fraud.

Possession of a credit or debit card – A person does not need to be in actual possession of another person’s credit or debit card to violate criminal statutes.  Simply having possession of the card number without the owner’s permission may be enough to be charged.  Also, the card or the card number does not need to be physically found on a person to be charged either.  If the card or information is found in an area that the person has control over (an apartment or a car, for example), then they can also be charged.

Stealing or receiving a stolen card – If a person takes control of another person’s card without their consent, they can be charged with a crime.  This can include taking a card out of a wallet or removing it from a person’s home, as well as taking it directly from a person.  It is also illegal to receive a card with the knowledge that it has been obtained without the holder’s consent.  So if another person steals a card and turns it over to you, and you know it is stolen, you can be charged with a crime as well.  The key here is knowing the card was stolen as opposed to unknowingly accepting a card or card information as payment for goods and services.

Possessing a card with intent to defraud – If you steal a card, a prosecutor must be able to prove that you intended to use the card fraudulently.  If you are simply in possession of a card, and it can’t be proven that you intended to use if fraudulently, or you did not know it was stolen, you can’t be convicted of intent.

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.

Drug trafficking charges can have harsh consequences

In Arizona, if you have been arrested for trafficking drugs, you are facing consequences that can change your life forever.  Aside from possible significant jail time and fines, there are other implications affecting your job and your family that must be managed as soon as possible after you are arrested.

Federal, state and local officials have been bolstered in their law enforcement activities with the passage of The Patriot Act and The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, both of which give law enforcement more tools and tougher penalties for those who are convicted of drug felonies.

Trafficking convictions in Arizona will vary depending on the amount and type of drug involved.  For example, penalties for the trafficking of marijuana when less than two pounds are involved carry a sentence of not less than two years and up to 8.75 years and a fine of up to $150,000.  Trafficking in more than two pounds will increase a prison sentence up to 12.5 years and a fine up to $150,000.

There can be enhancements when minors are involved, if a person has been convicted of a prior drug felony, or the drug offense is committed in a school zone.

There are two common defenses if you’ve been charged trafficking drugs.

An experienced drug trafficking lawyer may claim possession of the drugs were for your personal use.  Obviously, the larger the quantity that is involved, the less that this defense can be used, if at all.

The other defense is entrapment.  Law enforcement officials can be overly zealous in pursuing drug trafficking crimes, and when they don’t follow appropriate procedures,a case may be dismissed.

Regardless of the circumstances, if you have been charged or are about to be charged with a drug trafficking crime, the first thing you should do is protect your rights and give yourself the best possible chance for acquittal by hiring a seasoned drug trafficking lawyer.

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.