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Florida Joins Nevada As Top Mortgage Fraud Hotspot

According to the latest quarterly report from Interthinx, Florida was the state with the highest rates of mortgage fraud during the fourth quarter of 2012. The report categorizes mortgage fraud risk by state, by ZIP code, by property valuation and by occupancy. Florida listed at least three locations among the top ten in each of these categories. This is the second quarter in a row that Florida was atop that list after surpassing Nevada last year.

Not every situation that could be described as mortgage fraud is reported. The statistics may reflect increased law enforcement and prosecutions geared toward catching and penalizing people in Florida. The Office of the Inspector General opened two new locations in Florida recently to further enhance its efforts to convict people for mortgage fraud and other forms of real estate fraud.

Among the top ten overall locations for fraud, four are from Florida, including the number one overall area Lakeland-Winter Haven. The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area finished at number three. Jacksonville and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach finished in fifth and sixth, respectively. Florida's mortgage fraud risk is significantly higher than it was in the fourth quarter of 2011. It is one of 18 states with that distinction. Across the country, mortgage fraud risk went up by 16 percent since the third quarter and by 9 percent since the same period in 2011.

The rise in mortgage fraud has triggered an increase in the penalties associated with this activity. Prison sentences and fines have grown recently. Anyone accused of mortgage fraud may now face substantially greater penalties than they would have a few year ago.

Source: Mortgage Orb, "Florida Topped Q4 2012 Mortgage Fraud Risk List," 26 February 2013

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