According to acting U.S. Attorney Nora D. Dannehy, most mortgage fraud cases involve false representations on mortgage loan applications and inflated property appraisals. In fact, appraisal and mortgage fraud cause an estimated 83% of all mortgages to be legally problematic.
Bank America, Wells Fargo & Co., JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc – some of the biggest players in the servicing industry – are all facing litigation.
In mid-July, the Federal Trade Commission and the California Attorney General’s Office – in conjunction with the state Real Estate Department and other agencies – jointly announced lawsuits, injunctions and fines against 189 companies across the nation, claiming they deceived troubled homeowners through mortgage modification and foreclosure schemes.
While Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp. (TB&W), headquartered in Ocala, Florida was attempting to give a capital infusion to Colonial Bank of $300 million, federal and state officials raided both entities. TB&W’s website states they are “… a top 10 national wholesale mortgage lender.” The Wall Street Journal says they are the third-largest underwriter of FHA loans. Colonial Bank is the sixth largest bank in Florida. There relationship was incestuous. TB&W was trying to give Colonial Bank a $300 million capital infusion at the same time that Colonial Bank was a major funder of TB&W.
Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs director Pastor Herrera, Jr. noted that fraudulent foreclosure prevention services were so bad and rampant that the category could top the list of consumer complaints for 2009.
Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois recently signed a mortgage scam defense bill that offers better consumer protection to those who are in search of home loans.
According to the Mortgage Asset Research Institute, the states with the most significant mortgage fraud problems in 2008 were Rhode Island, Florida, Illinois, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Michigan, California, Missouri and Colorado (in that order). Florida is the mortgage fraud’s epicenter and hypocenter. According to my conversations with anonymous sources at the U. S. Attorney’s office, Rhode Island’s position as first is an anomaly. Unfortunately, Florida is dubiously first.
Mortgage fraud may be pandemic and not just epidemic. It is pervasive in our society. As previously stated, Congress has devoted $522 million to prosecute mortgage fraud. The city, state and federal governments have devoted tremendous resources to fight mortgage fraud. It has brought down top companies and banks in America. It has changed the way that people act and think for the next generation.