One of the biggest crime waves in the last decade had nothing to do with guns or drugs or gangs, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The criminal tools were houses and lousy loans. The ringleaders, critics contend, earned seven-figure salaries and hatched their plots from inside well-appointed boardrooms. The crime was mortgage fraud. The damage it created is still being calculated.
There are estimates that at least $7 billion in fraudulent loans were originated nationally in 2007. Ohio, according to an index that tracks mortgage fraud cases, has one of the worst fraud rates in the country. Cleveland alone may have seen several hundred million dollars’ worth of mortgage fraud during the subprime lending boom that began in 2002 and ended in 2006. In a takeout, the newspaper attempts to explain how it happened and what authorities are doing to hold those responsible accountable.