Industry NewsTechnology

Technology exposes real estate fraud

Focuses on borrower identity, property characteristics

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A convicted felon once told MARI's Bill Matthews that he never would go into a bank's branch office because he feared employees might recognize him. Instead, he preferred the less personal telephone to commit fraud. Now, the Internet takes that depersonalization a step further. That shift has been both a blessing and a curse to the mortgage industry, said Matthews, who works as VP and general manager for Mortgage Asset Research Inc. The Web and other automated systems have added efficiency to the industry, but they have also made it easier for perpetrators to take advantage of the faceless relationships the technology creates. The challenge lies in developing new tools to detect and prevent mortgage fraud, which experts say is rampant and on the upswing. Mortgage fraud can cost lenders and consumers millions of dollars. Perpetrators often include sophisticated rings of professionals, and the crimes can take years to investigate, making prevention even more important. The technology us...