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American Mortgage Blog

Dec 6

Written by: Mortgage Blog
12/6/2011 8:15 AM  RssIcon

One of the topics in the press in recent years is the incidence of fraud in the mortgage industry. Many offenders have been brought to justice, while others are under investigation. Honest lenders applaud the efforts of authorities in forcing these criminals out of our industry. Nationwide, mortgage fraud is a pervasive and significant crime problem. In 2010, there was $3.2 billion in estimated losses due to mortgage fraud nationwide, with 2011 on track to equal or exceed that amount. Combating mortgage fraud is a priority for the FBI due to the impact the housing market has on the economy, and since it makes it more costly and difficult for legitimate homebuyers to secure loans.

The most common schemes include loan origination, builder-bailouts, seller assistance, short sale, foreclosure rescue, Home Equity Conversion Mortgage fraud, and identity theft exploiting home equity lines of credit. (See www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/white_collar/mortgage-fraud or www.fbi.gov/espanol for an explanation of these terms.) The common denominator among these schemes is that they contain some type of material misstatement, misrepresentation or omissions relied upon by a lender.

Here are some tips for borrowers to combat fraud during the mortgage process:
Obtain referrals for real estate and mortgage professionals when you want to buy or sell a home. Check out their licenses with state, county, or city regulatory agencies.
Do your own research into sale prices and recent tax assessments of other homes in the neighborhood.
Beware of “no money down” loans. This is a gimmick to entice people to buy a home they really can’t afford.
Don’t make a false statement on your loan application, such as overstating your income or lying about where your down payment is coming from.
Never sign a blank document or a document containing blank lines. Read and review all loan documents signed at closing. If you don’t understand what you’re signing, get an attorney who can review the documents for you.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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