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The Ticker

Foreclosure-rescue scams on the rise: FinCen

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Reports of mortgage fraud declined in the first half of 2012. But when looking at foreclosure-rescue scam reports alone, borrowers noted more suspicious activity, according to the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.   

Foreclosure-rescue schemes generally target distressed borrowers, promising them a chance to obtain modifications for a fee; and in some cases, stripping the homeowner of their title by promising a fraudulent sale of the property to investors.

The Department of Justice reported Tuesday that a yearlong initiative to fight foreclosure-rescue scammers netted well over 500 defendants. The accused defendants produced about $1 billion in potential losses. The Federal Trade Commission also filed lawsuits against three alleged mortgage relief fraudsters.

FinCen said Tuesday that 2,360 foreclosure-related suspicious activity reports were filed in the first half of 2012 alone.

"If this current pace continues, the total number of foreclosure-rescue scam SARs for the calendar year will far exceed the total of 2,782 reported in 2011," FinCen wrote.

Yet, suspicious activity reports on mortgage fraud fell 41% from 2011 levels in the first half of the year. In fact, only 17,476 potential mortgage fraud reports were filed, according to FinCen.  Of those, 8%, or 1,325, involved potential foreclosure-rescue scams.

The state of California contains a disproportionate number of the suspicious activity reports related to foreclosure-rescue initiatives.

As for what might be causing an uptick in foreclosure scam reports, FinCen attributes this uptick to growing public awareness about the issue.

kpanchuk@housingwire.com

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