The U.S. Department of Justice nailed Citigroup on mortgage fraud charges, getting the bank to agree to pay out a $158 million settlement while admitting it tricked a federal insurance program into backing bad loans. When borrowers defaulted, taxpayers ended up footing the bill. [More]
An investigative report finds that Massachusetts regulators only acted against 3% of its licensees during the sub-prime peak, the lowest among fellow New England states, while publicly preening that it was being “aggressive.” In fact, as foreclosures rose during ’06-’08, enforcement actually dropped. Forget who watches the watchdogs, who watches? [More]
Various U.S. officials, including Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, announced a multi-agency crackdown on foreclosure relief fraud today, vowing to “redouble efforts to crack down on schemes that target distressed homeowners and also to share more information and resources across agencies and with state officials,” says the WSJ.
In its recent annual report to the Mortgage Banker’s Association, the Mortgage Asset Research Institute described three emerging mortgage fraud schemes that are either new or increasing in popularity.
As you might imagine, mortgage fraud is up, up, up. 26%!
If you’re expecting this story to be about the worst bunch of shady house flippers from the height of the credit boom, you’ll be disappointed. This story is about a family that took WaMu for huge amounts of money by buying homes and selling them to their friends and other family members for grossly inflated prices — and pocketing the profit while the homes fell into foreclosure. They did this as the California real estate market was imploding, and after WaMu had announced that it had tightened its lending standards.
Over 400 people have been charged in the government’s national mortgage fraud probe, called “Operation Malicious Mortage,” which dealt with individual rather than corporate fraud. [Reuters]
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a fascinating article about real estate speculation in Minnesota. The article focuses on Bradley and Sarah Collin, a couple with three children who were living in a trailer park when they were suckered by a local “property management company” that (illegally) paid the couple $20,000 cash to buy 4 houses in a new subdivision.
The FBI has opened an investigation into Countrywide for suspected securities fraud, reports the New York Times. The Justice Department and FBI “are looking at whether officials at Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, misrepresented its financial condition and the soundness of its loans in security filings.” So far everything is unofficial because nobody has been authorized to discuss the case, and a Countrywide spokeswoman says, “”We are not aware of any such investigation.”