In an acknowledged bid for publicity to deter future crimes, the FBI today announced it had charged 406 people involved in 144 unrelated mortgage fraud cases since March 1 as part of an effort dubbed "Operation Malicious Mortgage." The FBI said most of the cases involved lending fraud, foreclosure rescue scams or mortgage-related bankruptcy schemes, causing about $1 billion in losses. Five dozen people were arrested in 15 judicial districts on Wednesday alone. Banks and other financial institutions filed 52,868 suspicious activity reports involving suspected mortgage fraud in 2007, an increase of 42 percent over the year before, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network reported in April (see story). The industry-financed Mortgage Asset Research Institute (MARI) says it may be three to five years before many instances of fraud and misrepresentation in loans made in 2007 are discovered. Many adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans will be refinanced, "potentiall...
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