Industry NewsMortgage

FBI boosts mortgage fraud caseload

Most suspicious activity still not investigated

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The FBI had more than 1,200 mortgage fraud investigations open at the end of fiscal year 2007, a 47 percent increase from the previous year but still a small fraction of suspected cases. The number of suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by banks detailing suspected mortgage fraud incidents grew 31 percent during the same period, to 46,717. Although federally chartered banks are required to file SARs with the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), many other mortgage lenders are exempt, suggesting that the FBI is investigating only a small fraction of mortgage fraud cases. In a report last year, the bureau said it investigated 818 mortgage fraud cases in 2006, winning 204 convictions and collecting $389 million in restitution and $231 million in fines (see story).The bureau did not release information on 2007 convictions, restitution and fines in its latest report. The FBI said the top 10 hot spots for mortgage fraud were Florida, ...