Mortgage fraud has cost lenders in the Charlotte, N.C., area $64 million in recent years, U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert said last Thursday, and federal authorities are “ramping up” their fight against such activities, reports said.

In a warning to real estate professionals, Shappert said state and federal authorities have successfully prosecuted 28 lenders, mortgage brokers, closing attorneys, appraisers, builders, sales promoters and others in the past three years, according to reports.

“We are not interrupting our fight against mortgage fraud, we are ramping it up,” Shappert told the Charlotte, N.C., Observer.

Mortgage fraud is a growing crime in the Charlotte area, the Observer said. Less than two years ago, authorities estimated some $150 million in Charlotte-area loans were suspect, according to the Observer. Shappert now estimates it’s $200 million, reports said.

Mortgage fraud usually involves real estate professionals conspiring to inflate the value of a home, recruit potential buyers and falsify their incomes to qualify for a loan. Scammers promise to provide renters to make mortgage payments, but don’t. Loans usually foreclose. Consumers and housing values are dramatically impacted by such fraud.

Four major cases have been investigated and prosecuted in recent years, Shappert told the Observer.

A partnership of state and federal authorities is targeting mortgage fraud, including the F-B-I, U.S. Secret Service, S-B-I and state regulatory boards, Shappert said, according to accounts.

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to janis@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 140.

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