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Alleged Mortgage Fraud up 4% in 2009 with LA, Miami in Top Spots

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LA and Miami are the top two cities where mortgage fraud suspicion reports are being filed, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). FinCEN notes that suspicious activity reports (SARs) for mortgage fraud in 2009 rose 4% from 2008, and really started speeding up towards the end of the year. Q409 is up 6% from the same quarter one year ago. Further, mortgage loan fraud made up 9% of all SARs filed in 2009, spiking at 11% in Q409. The news marks a huge slowdown from this time last year. Comparatively, in 2008 the SARs related to mortgage fraud were up 23%. However, drawing a more direct correlation is difficult considering that most SARs concern mortgages originated more than one year before the report is filed with FinCEN. Los Angeles and Miami are in the top two spots, with each seeing more than 10,000 reports being filed. New York City metro is in third with more than 7,200, followed by Chicago at 5,500. Riverside, Washington DC, Phoenix, Atlanta and Detroit round out the top ten, all with 2009 SARs below 4,000. "These numbers tell us that we must remain vigilant and continue taking action to focus resources and hold accountable perpetrators of mortgage fraud," said FinCEN Director James Freis, Jr. SARs do not indicate cases of actual fraud, just cases that may merit FinCEN investigation. Foreclosures, repurchases, insurance investigations, and enforcement actions appear in SAR narratives as contributing factors to the ultimate discovery and reporting of suspicious activities. Write to Jacob Gaffney.

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