Federal mortgage fraud convictions have more than doubled in the past year, says USA Today. The FBI expects a growth in foreclosure scams as the crisis over substandard, high-interest home loans escalates. The FBI opened 1,210 mortgage fraud cases in fiscal year 2007, nearly triple the number of new cases in 2003. Convictions more than doubled from 123 in the 2006 fiscal year to 260 in 2007.
The bureau has created 34 mortgage fraud task forces and working groups with investigators from departments including Housing and Urban Development, Treasury,and Veterans Affairs. They investigate suspicious activity such as deceptive pricing and falsified documentation by mortgage brokers, lenders, appraisers, real estate firms, and others. The FBI expects more foreclosure scams as criminals prey on growing numbers of people desperate to keep homes while interest rates balloon on adjustable rate mortgages.