Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs lead the nation in mortgage fraud. Anyone can be involved in the scam, from the lender to the closing attorney, but tough sentences are in store for anyone willing to defraud the public.
Chalana McFarland, 37, was sentenced recently to 30 years in federal prison after a day-long hearing in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, attended by some of her hundreds of victims.
McFarland's gang stole identities and falsified Social Security numbers, employment and income documents to qualify for loans.
Mortgage fraud is not a victimless crime... Whole neighborhoods are affected," the Judge said before sentencing McFarland 30 years in prison followed by five years supervised release. The Judge also ordered McFarland to repay $11,588,465.45 lost by her victims.
There are 100 people willing to steal your money for every one that is put in jail. So how do you protect yourself from these predators?
Well, the fact is since you do not handle real estate transactions every day, you cannot be expected to recognize every possible pitfall or scam that comes your way.
The key to protecting yourself is to find a knowledable real estate agent who can direct you to honest lenders, appraisers and attorneys. Your representative should also critique all of the settlement papers prepared before closing to make certain that you are not a victim ofor an unknowing participant infraud!
Ben Hirsh is an active Realtor and an expert on Atlanta Real Estate He can be reached at 678-779-7702. You may also view his website on Atlanta real estate at http://www.benhirsh.com