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Study shows mortgage fraud moving out of Chicago

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Levels of measurable mortgage fraud shifted away from historically active Chicago ZIP codes in the second quarter, in what analytics firm Interthinx called "a significant change." "Increased lender and law enforcement scrutiny combined with media coverage concerning fraud in these geographies may have played a role in this abrupt change," Interthinx said. The firm tracks the frequency at which fraudulent activity is detected, such as mis-evaluations, employment or income misrepresentations, property flipping and hidden straw buyers. Stockton, Calif., holds the highest level of mortgage fraud risk, according to Interthinx, followed by fellow Golden State cities Modesto and Riverside. There are five California metropolitan areas in the top 10. Overall, Interthinx lowered its risk score of the U.S. by 2.3% from last year, though the firm warned mortgage fraud activity remains elevated.

But missing from the top 10 in the second quarter were the Chicago ZIP codes 60621 and 60636, both located south of the city. The adjacent areas between them held the top spot on the Interthinx most fraudulent areas over the last year. "It suggests that when the industry has actionable intelligence and increases its scrutiny of an area, word gets out, and the fraudsters move on," said Kevin Coop, president of Interthinx. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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