The U.S. regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will share mortgage fraud information with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, according to an agreement announced on Monday, media reports said.

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight said it will share examination findings about actual or suspected mortgage fraud with FinCEN, which works with government agencies and the banking sector to protect the U.S. financial system from financial crime, such as money laundering, according to reports.

FinCEN will include the information from OFHEO in its database of Bank Secrecy Act information that can be searched by law enforcement officials, reports said.

Residential real estate loan fraud is a national epidemic, costing communities nationwide an estimated $1 billion in 2005, compared with $429 million in 2004, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI has identified California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Illinois, Maryland, Georgia and Florida as “hot spots” for mortgage fraud in activity in 2004.

States including Atlanta have enacted legislation to fight mortgage fraud and U.S. Senator Barack Obama has asked the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs to hold hearings on mortgage fraud.

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