Florida and Nevada were the riskiest states for mortgage fraud during the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the latest quarterly Mortgage Fraud Risk Report published by Agoura Hills, Calif.-based Interthinx.
Interthinx found that the Sunshine State retained its position at the top of the fraud risk chart after usurping Nevada in the third quarter of 2012. Florida has at least three metropolitan statistical areas in the top 10 riskiest lists for overall, ZIP codes, property valuation and occupancy fraud.
California and its metros remain at high risk, Interthinx reports, though to a lesser degree than has been observed in the past. Although California metros are still well represented in all of the top 10 type-specific lists, the state fell to eighth riskiest this quarter, the lowest it has been since the inception of this report.
Fraud risk has dropped significantly in many Western states over the past year – as typified by a 20% drop in risk in Arizona since the fourth quarter of 2011, as the state fell to seventh place after spending several years in the top three. Conversely, fraud risk has jumped in the eastern United States, most notably in Illinois and Ohio, which are now ranked fifth and sixth riskiest, respectively.
Overall, mortgage fraud risk nationwide increased 16% over the previous quarter and 9% over fourth-quarter 2011. The large increase in the fourth quarter's index value was primarily driven by a 25% surge in property valuation fraud risk.
‘Being aware of these broad-based trends enables our industry to make more informed operating decisions and helps educate those with an interest in our industry,’ says Mike Zwerner, senior vice president of Interthinx.
The full report is available online.