The Mortgage Bankers Association recently announced that the Mortgage Asset Research Institute LLC (MARI), a ChoicePoint company, has completed its 10th Periodic Mortgage Fraud Case Report to MBA. The report examines the current state of residential mortgage fraud and misrepresentation in the U.S., based on participating subscribers' reports to MARI. The report, which sites Florida as topping the MARI Fraud Index list for the second consecutive year and Nevada climbing to the number two ranking, was released during MBA's annual National Fraud Issues Conference in Chicago.
"The current market conditions, compounded by mortgage fraud, are having a detrimental impact on our entire national economy," said David G. Kittle, CMB, chairman-elect of the MBA. "The MARI report provides critical insight for those in the real estate finance industry to better understand the factors contributing to these circumstances so that our communities and member companies are protected."
According to the Mortgage Fraud Case Report, "The conditions in the mortgage industry for the last half of 2007 made the year one for the record books." Overall, 2007 marked the lowest volume of mortgage loan originations since 2002, the highest number of delinquencies and foreclosures, rapid and near complete shutdown of the non-conforming secondary market, and hundreds of announced closures of mortgage originators.
"Because fraud is persistent, it is imperative for the mortgage industry to collaborate in its efforts to combat mortgage fraud against lenders," said Merle D. Sharick, vice president of ChoicePoint and national manager of business development for MARI. "MARI will continue its efforts to disseminate current data for use by MBA's members through our annual fraud report."
Highlights in the Mortgage Fraud Case Report include:
In addition to Florida and Nevada, the remainder of this year's top ten, in order, are Michigan, California, Utah, Georgia, Virginia, Illinois, New York and Minnesota; ++Colorado showed the greatest improvement from prior years' rankings, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time in five years;
The most common types of fraud found in 2007 originations continue to be in the areas of employment history and claimed income; and
The continuing unsettled state of the mortgage market as a whole does not bode well for any improvement in avoiding fraud in the coming year.