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FinCEN Expands Probe of Suspicious Real Estate Purchasing

Phil Hall
Jul 28, 2016

The federal government’s investigation into dubious real estate activity has been expanded to include more major U.S. markets.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is now targeting all five boroughs of New York City, Florida’s Broward and Palm Beach Counties, California’s San Diego and Los Angeles Counties plus three Bay Area counties (San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties), and Texas’ Bexar County (which San Antonio) in its Geographic Targeting Orders (GTO). Earlier this year, FinCEN aimed at Manhattan and Florida’s Miami-Dade County in its efforts to require that U.S. title insurance companies identify the individuals behind shell companies using cash to purchase high-end residential real estate. FinCEN works with title insurance companies because their product line is a common feature in many real estate transactions of this nature.

“The information we have obtained from our initial GTOs suggests that we are on the right track,” said FinCEN Acting Director Jamal El-Hindi. “By expanding the GTOs to other major cities, we will learn even more about the money laundering risks in the national real estate markets, helping us determine our future regulatory course.”

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