The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has reported that the number of mortgage fraud suspicious activity reports (SARs) rose to 25,485 up 31 percent from 19,420 in the first quarter of 2010, according to its latest in its First Quarter 2011 Mortgage Loan Fraud (MLF) analysis. FinCEN attributes the increase to large mortgage lenders conducting additional reviews after receiving demands to repurchase poorly performing mortgage loans. In the first quarter of 2011, 86 percent of MLF SARs reported activities which occurred more than two years prior to the filing of the SARs.
The analysis also found that California dominated the top mortgage fraud rankings. Miami dropped to the sixth most reported area after five years in the top two ranks.
“A substantial majority of reports involved activities which occurred in 2006-2007, an indication that the industry is slowly making its way through the most problematic mortgages,” said James H. Freis Jr., director of Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). “FinCEN will continue to closely track SAR data related to mortgage fraud and work closely with the U.S. Trustee’s Office, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Trade Commission, and National Association of Attorneys General to investigate and prosecute those perpetrating debt elimination scams and to protect consumers and financial institutions from scammers.”
In its first quarter 2011 analysis, FinCEN notes that SAR filers describe numerous fake documents and payment methods that customers and third parties submitted to financial institutions in attempts to have their mortgage obligations eliminated.
FinCEN also reported that a review of close to 70 SARs filed less than 90 days from the suspicious incident found activities such as loan modification and foreclosure rescue scams, flopping, and falsified claims of identity theft. Flopping occurs when a foreclosed property is sold at an artificially low price to a straw buyer, who quickly sells the property at a higher price and pockets the difference.