In what’s become an annual tradition, the FBI announced the results of a "mortgage fraud sweep" Thursday, hours after releasing statistics documenting the rise in suspected cases of mortgage fraud reports filed by lenders.

The sweep, "Operation Stolen Dreams," has produced 485 arrested since its launch on March 1, and criminal charges against 1,215 defendants who are allegedly responsible for $2.3 billion in losses, the FBI said.

In releasing its annual report on mortgage fraud, the FBI said reports by financial institutions of incidents of suspected mortgage fraud climbed 13 percent during the six months ending March 31, to 37,739, compared to the same period a year ago.

The FBI said that as of April 2010, it had 3,029 pending mortgage fraud cases, 68 percent of which involved dollar losses totaling more than $1 million (see story).

In announcing Operation Stolen Dreams, the FBI said the sweep was focused not only on federal criminal cases, but also on civil enforcement, recovering money for victims and increasing cooperation with state and local partners.

To date, the operation has resulted in 191 civil enforcement actions, which have resulted in the recovery of more than $147 million.

In its annual report on mortgage fraud, the FBI said that the total dollar loss attributed to mortgage fraud is unknown, but that CoreLogic has estimated $14 billion in fraudulent loans were originated in 2009, including $7.5 billion in FHA loans and $6.5 billion in conforming loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

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