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Bill would criminalize real estate fraud

Georgia law seeks up to 20 years in prison for multiple offenders

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Real estate fraud is raging in Georgia, which leads the nation in such activity, prompting the introduction of a bill in the state's legislature aimed at curbing the problem. "I get a phone call, if not every day, every other day with someone reporting a new mortgage fraud," said David McLaughlin, assistant attorney general for the state of Georgia. "There's no doubt Georgia, and metro Atlanta in particular, lead the nation." Georgia has the highest incidence of mortgage fraud per capita in the U.S. prime lending market, according to numbers from the Mortgage Industry Data Exchange, which is operated by the Mortgage Asset Research Institute. "We looked at mortgage fraud from 2000 through 2004 and Georgia had two and a half times more fraud than we would expect given their population," said Bill Matthews, MARI's vice president and general manager. MARI collects incidents of alleged fraud and material misrepresentation or serious misconduct by mortgage industry professionals. Last...