Every day, we hear about lenders and servicing agents and the various fraud that they have collectively committed. Most of what you hear is true in regard to Quiet Title, Wrongful Foreclosure and lender fraud. What we do NOT hear about is the mortgage fraud committed by borrowers!! This frequently involves exaggeration of income, or limitation of expenses..length of employment or home ownership etc. I was reminded today of a nation wide sweep of borrower mortgage fraud, entitled, "Operation Stolen Dreams".
More than 500 people were arrested in a nationwide crackdown on mortgage fraud in 2010, and federal officials pointed to Las Vegas as one of the centers of the scams that pumped up home prices until the housing market bubble finally burst.
"I heard this many times," said Scott Hunter, a Las Vegas FBI agent who has interviewed hundreds of so-called "straw buyers" lured into buying homes by unscrupulous real estate agents, brokers and loan officers. "They said, 'Don't let your good credit go to waste. You can purchase these properties. This is how you acquire wealth.'"
"What happened here was, when the party stopped and they were not able to keep inflating the prices on these houses, the whole thing collapsed."
Nevada's U.S. attorney, Daniel Bogden, counted 123 defendants charged, convicted or sentenced in the Silver State since March 1 as part of a national crackdown dubbed Operation Stolen Dreams. Bogden put losses in Nevada alone at almost $250 million.
In Washington, the Justice Department linked nearly 500 arrests nationwide to the crackdown. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the push the largest collective enforcement effort aimed at confronting mortgage fraud.
Holder said 1,215 criminal defendants had been netted in cases that uncovered more than $2.3 billion in losses, and said the Justice Department also engaged in civil enforcement actions to recover more than $147 million in the operation.
FBI Director Robert Mueller called mortgage fraud "a risk to our economic stability" as a nation.
More than lending institutions were victimized, said Michael Gibson, a Los Angeles-based federal Housing and Urban Development inspector who has been investigating cases in Las Vegas.
Homeowners, taxpayers, reputable real estate industry officials and the Federal Housing Administration were also hurt, Gibson said. "They're all victims in this. Every time you have a bad loan that's FHA-insured, the federal government pays that claim amount."
I am reminded of a title insurance speaking engagement that I presented in New York in Septmeber of 2012..there were more than a dozen FBI agents in attendance to learn about various aspects of real estate fraud!!
Paddy Deighan JD PhD