Arizona will get nearly $2 million in federal money this year to combat mortgage scammers that experts say helped push the state into a housing bust and can hinder its recovery, the Arizona Republic reports. That means the state, described by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as one of the national mortgage-fraud “epicenters,” is tagged to get almost a quarter of the nearly $8 million being distributed for the task in the federal government’s fiscal 2010 budget. “Mortgage fraud must be stopped in its tracks,” Holder said.
Holder spoke yesterday at a mortgage-fraud summit in Phoenix after a string of appraisers, lenders, real-estate attorneys, law enforcement officials and others talked about errors that led to the housing bubble and possible ways to keep it from happening again. They said the housing crash has not chased scammers out of the market – they are simply running new scams. One of the worst, they said, is phony loan-modification companies. They placed blame on all sides: appraisers, bankers, mortgage companies. Mark Tronziger, president of the Arizona Association of Mortgage Brokers, said it was so easy to get a mortgage during the bubble that there was a joke about being able to get a loan if you could “fog a mirror.”