Last month, the FBI warned about a surge in mortgage fraud. Well, it’s happening.
Today, New York law enforcement officials announced charges against 41 people in eight separate cases for allegedly running mortgage fraud scams that together cheated lenders of more than $64 million in home loans on more than 100 properties across New York State.
DOJ: The mortgage fraud scams alleged in the cases announced today included, among other things, property flips, equity stripping, and appraisal and loan fraud. In one case, defendants operated a foreclosure rescue scheme, targeting individuals who were on the verge of losing their homes by tricking them into giving up the equity in the properties with false promises that their homes would be saved.
Among those charged are six lawyers, seven loan officers, three mortgage brokers, an accountant, and a residential property appraiser.
“The type of criminal conduct charged today constricts the credit markets and makes it harder for honest people to realise the American dream of home ownership,” said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “It is especially alarming when lawyers, loan officers, and mortgage brokers treat their professional licenses as licence to loot banks and profit from other people’s pain.”
Right. But are we really surprised?
As we noted today, home prices aren’t (yet) at overinflated levels again, but the housing market is seeing a return of enthusiasm — meaning risky speculation — the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time. And it’s exactly that froth that creates the environment for the mortgage fraud scammers to flourish.
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