Monday, August 15, 2011

FBI'S 2010 MORTGAGE FRAUD REPORT





Scope Note
The purpose of this study is to provide insight into the breadth and depth of mortgage fraud crimes perpetrated against the United States and its citizens during 2010. This report updates the 2009 Mortgage Fraud Report and addresses current mortgage fraud projections, issues, and the identification of mortgage fraud “hot spots.” The objective of this study is to provide FBI program managers and the general public with relevant data to better understand the threat posed by mortgage fraud. The report was requested by the Financial Crimes Section, Criminal Investigative Division (CID), and prepared by the Financial Crimes Intelligence Unit (FCIU), Directorate of Intelligence (DI). 

This report is based on FBI; federal, state, and local law enforcement; mortgage industry; and open-source reporting. Information was also provided by other government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), and the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Industry reporting was obtained from LexisNexis, Mortgage Asset Research Institute (MARI), RealtyTrac, Inc., Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Interthinx, and CoreLogic. Some industry reporting was acquired through open sources.

While the FBI has high confidence in all of these sources, some inconsistencies relative to the cataloging of statistics by some organizations are noted. For example, suspicious activity reports (SARs) are cataloged according to the year in which they are submitted, but the information contained within them may describe activity that occurred in previous months or years. The geographic specificity of industry reporting varies, as some companies report at the ZIP code level and others by city, region, or state. Many of the statistics provided by the external sources, including FinCEN, FHA, and HUD-OIG, are captured by fiscal year (FY); however, this report focuses on the calendar year findings as reported by mortgage industry and economic data sources. Additionally, there are also variances in the reporting of fraud depending on who the victim is (either a financial institution or a homeowner). While these discrepancies have minimal impact on the overall findings stated in this report, we have noted specific instances in the text where they may affect conclusions.
See Appendix A for additional information for these sources.

Geospatial maps were provided by the Crime Analysis Research and Development Unit, Criminal Justice Information Services Division.

Key Findings 
  • 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  

1 comment:

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