Where do lenders need to watch their backs?

Mortgage fraud increases 2% from 2013

The national Mortgage Fraud Risk Index value hit 101 for the final quarter of 2013, up 2% from a year ago, but down 7% from the previous quarter, Interthinx’s latest quarterly interactive Mortgage Fraud Risk Report found.

According to the report, loans associated with multi-unit properties have a much higher fraud risk than loans associated with other property types.

The Mortgage Fraud Risk Index for multi-unit properties reached 250: more than double the index for single-family residences, condos or planned unit developments.

“One of the lessons lenders should take from this quarter’s report is not to overlook the most obvious areas for fraud risk,” said David Kittle, Interthinx senior vice president of industry strategy.

“For example, it’s not surprising that this quarter’s report showed high risk in multi-unit property loans, as they are most often used as investment vehicles and have a high propensity for occupancy and employment/income fraud,” Kittle continued. “Knowing the market and where the risks lie go a long way in preventing fraudulent loans from reaching the postfunding stage.”

The drop in the national mortgage fraud risk index value for the fourth quarter is primarily driven by a 19% decrease in identity fraud risk and, to a lesser extent, a 5% decrease in occupancy fraud risk.

Meanwhile, the employment/income fraud risk index was the only index to increase this quarter, rising 1%.

The riskiest state, California, posted a mortgage fraud risk index value of 139, with eight metropolitan statistical areas on the top 10 list for overall risk.

Tulsa, Okla., is the riskiest metropolitan statistical area this quarter, with a mortgage fraud risk index value of 175, up 20% from last quarter.

“It’s important for lenders to take the long view when it comes to fraud risk and not become complacent when it seems as though the risk is declining,” said Jeff Moyer, president of Interthinx.

“While the national fraud index was down from last quarter, our findings still showed that it was up compared with this time last year. As always, there is a greater risk for fraud in a tightening purchase market, and all evidence seems to point to this scenario for 2014. One must always be vigilant where fraud risk is concerned,” Moyer added.

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