Mortgage fraud losses in Michigan jumped from nearly $9 million to $26 million over a two-year period in what has become one of the fastest-growing white-collar crimes in the nation, the Detroit News reported Tuesday. "These criminals are literally trying to steal the homes out from underneath unsuspecting citizens," Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson told the News. The county clerk formed a task force last month with police and prosecutors to combat the problem, reports said. Nationally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that mortgage fraud losses jumped from $429 million in 2004 to $1 billion in 2005. The FBI identified Michigan as one of the top 10 "hot spots" in 2005 for mortgage and deed fraud. Mortgage fraud affects lending institutions and ultimately the health of the U.S. economy, as well as thousands of homeowners. Consumers pay through increased interest rates and fees at banks. In addition, values of other real estate in a neighborhood can be skewed by the artific...
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