Authorities are investigating what is believed to be the first case of mortgage fraud in Dawson County, Ga., the Gainesville, Ga., Times reported.

Imran Siddiqui was arrested March 28 while attempting to close on a loan involving a Dawson County home, reports said.

Siddiqui is being held in the Dawson County Detention Center on one count of residential mortgage fraud, Sgt. Tony Wooten of the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office told the Times.

Georgia’s new Residential Mortgage Fraud Act makes it possible for alleged fraudsters to be charged with mortgage fraud, which was not previously the case. The Act, aimed at curbing mortgage fraud, was signed into law May 5, 2005 by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue. It defines the criminal offense of residential mortgage fraud.

Anyone convicted of engaging in residential mortgage fraud with one property faces one to 10 years in prison and up to a $1,000 fine. Offenders convicted of mortgage flipping two or more properties could receive a sentence from three to 20 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine for each property.

Wooten said the state Attorney General’s Office and Atlanta police also were involved in the incident, according to reports.

“The combined work of these organizations led to this arrest, and it could possibly involve other similar actions,” Wooten told the Times.

Authorities said they knew in advance about the possible fraud, which involves at least one confirmed case of identity theft, reports said.

“The evidence uncovered so far indicates that at least one identity was stolen and was used to fraudulently obtain a loan,” Wooten said, according to reports.

Reports said the person who took the identity might have arranged a series of documents subsequently used as a basis for obtaining the mortgage. Authorities also believe the case may involve other people.

“According to the information so far, a mortgage company in Atlanta began to suspect that something was wrong, and they contacted the state Attorney General’s Office, who then contacted the local law enforcement authorities in each county involved,” Wooten told the Times.

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