Due to their special training, lawyers are in a unique position to conduct fraud, and real estate is no exception from the rule. In Chicago, a notoriously corrupt city, attorney Robert Lattas admitted his role in a $22.9 million mortgage fraud.
Most mortgage fraud featured on this site deals with making a quick buck and riding into the sunset. That wasn’t the case in this deal, where Lattas sent knowingly fraudulent pricing and documents to banks to help push through mortgage closings on a high rise client building for his client, 13th and State LLC.
Lattas and the building’s developers were fully aware that the units listed were not worth the asking price, and sent on documents showing inflated values and falsified records for how much each unit owner was putting in to buy the properties.
The fraud arose in this case after the 80 condo units spent over three years on the market without buyers. Lattas helped the developer unload the condos on the buyers at an estimated fraud of $13 million on a $22.9 million total deal. Lattas was paid just under $300,000 for his legal work in the case.
Had the buyers worked with trusted real estate agents, they may have been able to avoid the headache of this deal. Urban Chicago agents would have been privy to the units that had sat on the market for three years, and could have acted to protect their clients from purchasing the units well above market value.
But when you go it alone, sometimes that expert advice doesn’t make it your way. In that case, mortgage fraud is the result, and it could be quite some time before any restitution payments make it back into the buyer’s pockets.
Read the entire story at Law360.