Imagine landing your dream home. Your credit is a bit shaky, but you manage to get a subprime loan with an adjustable rate mortgage. A few years later the interest rates jump and you can no longer afford to pay. You see an ad for a business that�s willing to help�it�ll pay your mortgage for a modest monthly fee while you get back on your feet. But here�s the heartbreak: it�s a scam. The con artists just take your money and run�
It�s just one of the latest schemes and frauds being seen these days across the financial services industry.
These scams�which include plenty of shenanigans with mortgages and subprime loans�are costing the nation tens of billions of dollars a year.
Millions of homeowners are caught up in this subprime mess. The Federal Reserve has gotten involved in an attempt to bail out the mortgage loan companies. Criminal charges may be filed against these companies for falsifying records, loaning money to under-qualified home buyers, and not reporting the truth to investors.
These are all good reasons why the US government is squarely focused on cracking down on the largest of these financial crimes, launching proactive initiatives and shifting resources as trends emerge, all the while working hand-in-hand with a host of government and private sector partners.
Currently, investigators are actively pursuing mortgage companies and investment irregularities.
The government is investigating 14 corporations involved in subprime lending as part of our Subprime Mortgage Industry Fraud Initiative launched last year.
The companies come from across the financial services industry, from mortgage lenders to investment banks that bundle loans into securities sold to investors. They�re also looking at insider trading by some executives.
Traditional mortgage fraud:
In one state alone, more than 1,200 cases open today (up about 40 percent from last year), mostly involving fraud for profit, where groups of straw buyers, realtors, etc. rig schemes to buy properties that are flipped or allowed to go into foreclosure.
Hotspots include California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Utah.
Suspicious activity reports that we review for potential mortgage fraud have grown from 3,000 in fiscal year 2003 to 48,000 in fiscal year 2007. This year, they�re on pace to receive more than 60,000 such reports.
A recent case: In November, the owners of a long-time Minnesota homebuilder called Parish Marketing�along with a bank officer, a closing agent, and others�pled guilty to a $100 million mortgage scheme involving some 200 homes.
If you are a victim of the subprime mortgage madness, contact your bank and see if there are any programs in place to alleviate the pain.