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South Florida Leads Nation In Mortgage Fraud

MIAMI — A mortgage fraud initiative that includes local, state and federal agencies will crack down on violators in light of the rising number of mortgage fraud cases in South Florida, said the United States attorney for the southern district of Florida Thursday.”The American dream of home ownership is under attack by mortgage fraudsters. Mortgage fraud puts lenders at risk and confronts homeowners with the possibility of foreclosures and the loss of their homes,” said Alex Acosta, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Florida.The two most recent cases involve 18 people, who have been charged in mortgage fraud schemes resulting in more than $50 million in fraudulent loans, said Acosta.condo1.jpgIn one case in the Southwest Ranches area of Broward County, officials with the Broward Sheriff’s office and the Internal Revenue Service charged 15 people in a mortgage fraud scheme resulting in a 70-count indictment.

Authorities said that scheme led to 12 fraudulent loans totaling more than $8 million using false pay stubs and Internal Revenue Service forms.”While criminals like these rob the public using a pen rather than a gun, the damage they cause is just as devastating to their victims,” said acting Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti.The other case involved 17 different luxury condominiums on South Beach. Authorities said the suspects offered 100 percent financing to buyers and gave false information about the buyers’ assets and income. That resulted in three arrests and more than $42 million in fraudulent loans.As reported by Fannie Mae in June 2007 and by the Mortgage Asset Research Institute in May 2007, Florida led the nation in mortgage fraud rates this past year. Within Florida, South Florida has the highest rate of mortgage fraud in the state.Officials involved in the initiative said more arrests are to come.”The mortgage lending and housing market have a considerable overall effect on the nation’s economy and combating mortgage fraud will remain a top priority for the FBI,” said Jonathan I. Solomon, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Miami office.


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