Mortgage fraud would be a felony in Arizona punishable by up to 10 years in prison under the terms of legislation introduced by a state lawmaker.

Republican state Sen. Jay Tibshraeny of Chandler said the legislation was a response to a growing number of reports of fraudulent and deceptive sales tactics.

“Buyer beware of a deal that seems too good to be true. The strings your Realtor or mortgage broker pulls may be illegal,” Tibshraeny said in a prepared statement. “These professionals are obligated to act truthfully and responsibly and should be punished if they operate with any other motive.”

Senate Bill 1221 would make mortgage fraud a class 4 felony punishable by up to three years in prison. Those convicted of participating in a pattern of mortgage fraud cases would face class 2 felony charges punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The superintendent of the state Department of Financial Institutions, Felecia Rotellini, told the Arizona Republic that the legislation would help state and federal investigators participating in a mortgage fraud task force.

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