Year in Review
- Mortgage fraud continued at elevated levels in 2010, consistent with levels seen in 2009. Mortgage fraud schemes are particularly resilient, and they readily adapt to economic changes and modifications in lending practices.
- Mortgage fraud perpetrators include licensed/registered and non-licensed/registered mortgage brokers, lenders, appraisers, underwriters, accountants, real estate agents, settlement attorneys, land developers, investors, builders, bank account representatives, and trust account representatives.
- Total dollar losses directly attributed to mortgage fraud are unknown.
- A continued decrease in loan originations from 2009 to 2010 (and expected through 2012), high levels of unemployment and housing inventory, lower housing prices, and an increase in defaults and foreclosures dominated the housing market in 2010. RealtyTrac reported 2.9 million foreclosures in 2010, representing a 2 percent increase in foreclosures since 2009 and a 23 percent increase since 2008.
- Analysis of available law enforcement and industry data indicates the top states for known or suspected mortgage fraud activity during 2010 were California, Florida, New York, Illinois, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Texas, Georgia, Maryland, and New Jersey; reflecting the same demographic market affected by mortgage fraud in 2009.
- Prevalent mortgage fraud schemes reported by law enforcement and industry in FY 2010 included loan origination, foreclosure rescue, real estate investment, equity skimming, short sale, illegal property flipping, title/escrow/settlement, commercial loan, and builder bailout schemes. Home equity line of credit (HELOC), reverse mortgage fraud, and fraud involving loan modifications are still a concern for law enforcement and industry.
- With elevated levels of mortgage fraud, the FBI has continued to dedicate significant resources to the threat. In June 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ), to include the FBI, announced a mortgage fraud takedown referred to as Operation Stolen Dreams. The takedown targeted mortgage fraudsters throughout the country and was the largest collective enforcement effort ever brought to bear in combating mortgage fraud.
- The current and continuing depressed housing market will likely remain an attractive environment for mortgage fraud perpetrators who will continue to seek new methods to circumvent loopholes and gaps in the mortgage lending market. These methods will likely remain effective in the near term, as the housing market is anticipated to remain stagnant through 2011. TO VIEW FULL REPORT CLICK HERE