Pennsylvania woman receives 3 year sentence in mortgage fraud case
Even nonviolent crimes like mortgage fraud can cause damage to people's lives. This was made clear with the harsh sentence assigned to a mortgage broker from Pennsylvania. The woman, Elleni Klimantis Berger, operated a mortgage business with her sister, Vasilia Klimantis. The business, All Credit Finance, was allegedly designed to assist those who needed financial aid purchasing real estate. From August of 2002 to January of 2006, the IRS states that the two submitted loan applications with "material misrepresentations about the borrower's financial condition." Misrepresentations included an inflation of the value of the properties, inaccurate information about the borrower's employment status and misstatements about the borrower's income. These inaccuracies not only lead to loans the homeowners may not be able to afford but could also ultimately lead to foreclosures, causing homeowners to lose their homes.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the judge in the case gave a shorter prison sentence than recommended by the federal sentencing guidelines, which allowed a sentence of almost five years. The report also notes that the prosecution in the case argued the Klimantis' operation led to approximately $2.5 million in damages.
More than just money, what about the homeowners?
The damages in a case like this impact more than just the IRS. Homeowners who were granted predatory loans from operations like the one run through All Credit Finance also suffer. As mentioned, these homeowners may face foreclosure or otherwise lose their property.
There are some ways to help reduce your risk of becoming a victim of predatory lending. One step involves getting referrals. Talk to coworkers, friends and family for mortgage professionals that they would recommend. Also, look online. Search to see if the professional has his or her license and call the licensing organization to make sure the license is still current.
A red flag is also present if any mortgage professional pushes for a borrower to pursue no money down options. This could signal that the professional is simply trying to push you into a home you cannot afford instead of one that is right for you and your family. In addition, be sure to review the mortgage documents prior to signing them. Do not sign a blank document. If you notice any blanks, have the professional explain them and fill them in. If the professional is not willing to fill in the blanks, it may be best to walk away.
If you are the victim of a mortgage lending scam and face the risk of losing your home, contact an experienced Pennsylvania predatory lending attorney. This legal professional will be able to review your case and discuss options for relief.