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Palm Beach County, Florida, rank high in mortgage fraud

The second quarter numbers are in and Palm Beach County passed Broward and Miami-Dade counties to move into sixth place nationally in reported mortgage fraud. Florida as a whole moved into second position, behind only California in mortgage fraud reports per capita. The report reflects the increased efforts by financial institutions and federal law enforcement officials to catch and prosecute people suspected of real estate fraud.

The report comes from a Treasury Department agency known as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. In addition to Florida's prominent place in mortgage fraud cases, it shows that the reported cases of mortgage fraud nationwide have risen dramatically over 2010. After processing roughly 70,000 complaints last year, there were more than 55,000 complaints in the first half of 2011. Many of reports concern loans made between 2006 and 2008. Banks and investors are just now beginning to review these loans and turn them over to investigators for potential criminal action.

With three counties listed in the top ten nationally, South Florida is the epicenter of enforcement activity regarding mortgage fraud. As banks review the details of defaulted mortgages, more people can expect to be questioned in connection with fraudulent activity. Real estate professionals, banking professionals and individuals are being targeted in increasing numbers by state and federal investigators.

While many of the reports involved older loans, the increased attention paid by law enforcement is not restricted to any specific time period. There were more than 1,800 reports of suspected fraud on loans made over the last three months. As the government steps up its efforts, many more people will find themselves in federal court facing charges of mortgage fraud.

Source: The South Florida Sun Sentinel, "Report: Palm Beach County ranks sixth in mortgage fraud, dubious home loan activity," Kimberly Miller, 3 October 2011

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