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Florida mortgage fraud rate highest in America

More than one-quarter of reported loans that were investigated for fraud in the United States in 2010 originated in Florida. Mortgage fraud rates in the state were roughly three times the expected rate last year. Accusations of misrepresentation and fraud in the mortgage industry are high all over the nation, but nowhere is the problem receiving more attention from law enforcement than in Florida.

While the numbers are still high, the current rate of fraud claims seems to represent a reduction from previous years. This reduction could be attributed to fewer total loans being issued, or to an increased focus on reviewing delinquent loans from the years preceding 2010. What is clear is that law enforcement officials in Florida will continue to place a particular emphasis on seeking out and prosecuting individuals accused of mortgage fraud, misrepresentation and other fraudulent real estate practices.

Fraud schemes can take many forms. A common theme among recently reported fraud cases is the use of distressed properties. A volatile market makes it more difficult to properly assign a value to a property. Fraud accusations may come from lenders who believe a property was purposefully under-reported. Lenders practice of selling mortgages has also led to confusion over where and when to send mortgage payments. This can lead to claims of misrepresentation and invites further fraudulent practices.

For the victims and those accused of mortgage fraud, it will come as no surprise that Florida has easily retained its top ranking in the nation. Florida investigators uncover new complaints everyday and are aggressively seeking out the parties involved in real estate fraud.

Source: Bradenton.com, "Study: Florida still mortgage-fraud king," Duane Marstellar, 11 May 2011

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