Friday, February 4, 2011

Crackdown on Mortgage Fraud

The Mortgage Fraud Task Force of the U.S. Attorney's Office is marking its 3rd anniversary today with the filing of charges against another 14 individuals connected to 7 different fraudulent schemes.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton says in those 3 years, 105 defendants have been charged with 75 of them convicted or pleading guilty, and the remaining cases are pending..."this is a very important priority for this office."
Hickton says he believes that the mortgage fraud problem has peaked and that the task force has been a factor....
"We also have to acknowledge that the environment which created this with less restrictions has been remedied by the banking community and others. So, we think the problem is on the wane, but it's still there."
Hickton says over the last 3 years the indictments have involved 2,500 properties and $500 million in fraudulent loans, and that anyone who participates in the fraudulent transactions should be aware....
"If it's the seller, the borrower, the closing agent, the mortgage broker or the appraiser, they're all potential targets of these prosecutions."
According to Hickton, mortgage fraud is a double whammy for owners trying to pay for their homes...
"It hits many of our communities where people are struggling. It leaves people in a position where the community has been affected, homes are abandoned, families are victimized and then it can lead to a secondary level of crime where the abandoned home becomes a site of secondary criminal activity."
Hickton says there are no plans to end the work of this task force.

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