Amidst the growing occurrence of mortgage fraud in the United States, an industry trade group has asked Congress for additional funding to help fight the crime.

In a March 6 letter to Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the Mortgage Bankers Association asked for $6.35 million per year, over a five-year period, of dedicated funding for the FBI’s efforts in tracking down and prosecuting mortgage fraud.

“This important funding would provide for 30 new FBI field investigators, two new dedicated prosecutors at the Department of Justice to coordinate prosecution efforts with the U.S. Attorney’s offices, and $750,000 to support the operations of FBI Interagency Task Forces in the areas with the 15 highest concentrations of mortgage fraud,” Regina Lowrie, MBA’s chairwoman, wrote in the letter.

The FBI in a December press conference said the mortgage fraud is one of the fastest-growing white-collar crimes in the nation, costing the U.S. economy more than $1 billion in losses. There was a seven-fold increase in report of mortgage fraud from 3,088 in fiscal 1999 to 21,944 in fiscal 2005, the agency reported.

“Mortgage fraud is not a victimless crime,” Lowrie wrote, adding that borrowers who are not involved with perpetrators can be victimized along with lenders.

“Communities suffer when foreclosures result from fraud schemes that affect multiple properties within a neighborhood,” Lowrie wrote.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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