Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) including fraud accounts filed by depository institutions in 2008 increased by 13% from 2007, according to the SAR activity review released by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). All seven categories of fraud including mortgage loans rose by double digits. Last year, 64,816 accounts of mortgage loan fraud were filed, rising 23% from 2007. The reports have increased every year since 2003. The fraud categories make up just one-third of all possible violation types, but in 2008, accounted for half of the total SAR filings. The increase in fraud reports may be the result of combined filings for the same suspect, according to the report by FinCEN. A single report can contain several suspected crimes, including fraud.  For example, 35% of all reports of identity thefts contained reports of credit card fraud or other violations such as check or consumer loan fraud. FinCEN also indicated the increase in reports might be a sign that SAR filers are more suspicious. “While increases in reporting of suspected fraudulent activity could mean that there is an increase in fraud, it also reflects an increase in awareness within financial institutions detecting such activity,” said James Freis Jr., director of FinCEN, in a corporate release. Write to Jon Prior.

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