Mortgage Fraud On The Rise, Says FBI Director

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had more than 2,600 mortgage fraud cases pending at the end of July, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III told a Senate committee Wednesday. The agency handled about 1,600 cases during fiscal year 2008.

Mueller, speaking during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the FBI, noted that most of the mortgage fraud cases involved losses of more than $1 million. The FBI's mortgage fraud report for fiscal year 2008, released in July, showed that 63% of all pending investigations during the year involved losses of over $1 million.

The FBI has assigned approximately 300 special agents to investigate mortgage fraud. The agency directs 15 task forces and 59 working groups that target such fraud.

"Our success in generating new cases is due, in large measure, to the innovative ways in which we are utilizing data," Mueller told the committee. "We employ statistical correlations and other advanced computer technology to identify patterns in the search for companies and persons engaged in activity that is indicative of fraud."

FBI agents analyze data that are compiled through Suspicious Activity Reports filed by financial institutions and reports from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Inspector General.

"The FBI's efforts in this area focus on fraud perpetrated by industry insiders," Mueller said. "It is industry insiders who, in many instances, facilitate mortgage fraud. By focusing on these facilitators, we expect to maximize our finite resources."

In related news, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Attorney General Eric Holder and 11 state attorneys general will hold a closed-door meeting today in Washington to discuss merging trends in mortgage fraud.

The meeting follows up on an announcement by the Obama administration in April of a multi-agency crackdown on foreclosure rescue scams and loan modification fraud designed to protect homeowners from predatory financial practices.

SOURCE: Federal Bureau of Investigation


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