The Real Deal Miami

FBI steps up nationwide efforts to address mortgage fraud

March 03, 2011 03:46PM

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation says it’s handling more than 3,000 mortgage fraud cases nationwide, an increase of more than 400 percent since 2004, the Daily Record reported. According to CoreLogic, fraud has cost the mortgage industry an estimated $25 billion over the past two years. In recent years, New Jersey has ranked among the top 10 states for mortgage fraud activity, due in part to its dense population and abundance of mortgage bankers. “It’s all over the state,” said Terrence Hull, supervising deputy attorney general and chief of the major crimes bureau in the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice. “There are detectives and AGs that that’s all they have is mortgage fraud.”

Victims include lenders, homeowner and investors. Now that the housing bubble has burst and lenders have tightened credit, scammers are targeting the record number of U.S. homeowners facing foreclosure. A report last year by the U.S. Government Accountability Office warned that the foreclosure crisis presented criminals with “unprecedented opportunities to profit from homeowners desperate to save their homes.” More than 74,000 home loans in New Jersey were more than 60 days past due last year, according to the GAO. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are coordinating their efforts to pursue the perpetrators of these crimes. In New Jersey, a mortgage fraud task force including representatives from the FBI, the state attorney general’s office and county prosecutors meets regularly to share intelligence and divide up cases. [Daily Record]

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