Industry NewsMortgage

Report details ways homes are used to launder money

Money laundering harder to spot than mortgage fraud

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About one in five suspicious activity reports banks file with federal regulators over concerns about a residential real estate transaction show signs of money laundering or tax evasion, according to a new Treasury Department report. The report found evidence of money laundering or "structuring" -- transactions involving incomplete or falsified records -- in 20 percent of suspicious activity reports involving residential real estate transactions between 1996 and 2006. The Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network also detected a steep increase in the incidence of filings that might involve money laundering after 2004, to more than 50 percent. FinCEN's report looked at a random sample of 1,095 suspicious activity reports, of which 747 involved residential real estate transactions. Of those, 151 described suspected structuring or money laundering. Extrapolating those results to the 4.2 million total suspicious activity reports filed during the ...