June 18, 2010 |
Seeking to show victories against the kind of ground-level fraud that contributed to the housing crash, federal authorities said Thursday that they had filed criminal charges in recent months against 1,200 mortgage brokers and others accused of cheating banks and borrowers of $2.3 billion. White-collar crime experts said the size and scope of what the government presented Thursday — dubbed Operation Stolen Dreams — represented an unprecedented crackdown on mortgage fraud.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 1, 2010 |
The new year rang in with hundreds of new state laws governing how Californians live and do business. Starting today, restaurants face strict limits on cooking with artery-clogging trans fats; people wanting plastic surgery in California must get a physical first; dairy farmers are barred from cutting cows' tails; and the law gets tougher on mortgage fraud. Penalties for betting in office pools are reduced, but there are new fines for watching a dogfight, engaging in human trafficking and providing minors with nitrous oxide.
November 20, 2009 |
Three Riverside County businessmen and four associates were criminally charged Thursday after prosecutors said they sold false investments and committed grand theft in a scheme that bilked clients of $17 million and left many broke. "The schemes . . . collected tens of millions of dollars and victimized both individual investors and financial institutions," U.S. Atty. George S. Cardona said at a news conference in Riverside. "Using storefronts across the Inland Empire and numerous phone lines assigned to their shell companies, the schemers misled banks into believing that prospective borrowers had significant assets, when in fact the schemers were engaging in a mortgage fraud shell game built on lies to both their investors and the banks."
October 18, 2009 |
If anyone approaches you with an offer to buy your house that seems even the least bit out of the ordinary, there's a possibility that the money for the deal is coming from illegal drugs, prostitution or some other aspect of organized crime. There are no hard-and-fast statistics on the extent to which criminals are using real estate to place their illegal gains into the financial mainstream, but law-enforcement authorities suspect that money laundering is becoming more common. So much so that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, is considering a rule requiring real estate brokers, among other entities that don't have a direct financial interest in property sales, to file the same suspicious-activity reports that lenders are compelled to file when they smell something fishy.
September 18, 2009 |
Federal regulators, taking aim at a common tactic used in mortgage frauds, will look at a nationwide ban on companies' charging upfront fees for helping homeowners modify loans to avoid foreclosures. The move comes as federal and state officials plan to expand a crackdown on mortgage-related scams to other schemes that prey on debt-ridden consumers desperate to stay financially afloat during the recession. "Working together, we can send a clear and straightforward message: If you perpetrate mortgage fraud . . . we will find you and we will charge you and we will put you in jail," U.S. Atty.
September 17, 2009 |
The number of mortgage fraud cases under investigation by the FBI has risen about 63% since last year, according to bureau Director Robert S. Mueller III. There were more than 2,600 cases pending as of July 31, up from about 1,600 cases in fiscal 2008, Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee. Most of the cases involved losses of more than $1 million, he said.
August 11, 2009 |
A Beverly Hills real estate agent to the stars and an appraiser were convicted Monday on federal charges of conspiracy and bank fraud for their roles in a multimillion-dollar Westside real estate fraud ring, but jurors couldn't reach a verdict on another prominent agent accused of being part of the scheme. Real estate agent Kyle Grasso, 38, and licensed appraiser Lila Rizk, 42, were found guilty of multiple counts of conspiracy, bank fraud and loan fraud for their participation in a scheme in which banks lost more than $40 million on loans totaling $142 million.
April 8, 2009 |
Two dozen people have been charged with racketeering in connection with an allegedly fraudulent mortgage scheme run by a street gang member, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday in federal court in San Diego. The group allegedly profited from loans arranged for amounts in excess of the price of the homes, among other tactics. The homes went into foreclosure soon after they were sold, according to the indictment.
March 17, 2009 |
Stepped-up law enforcement and increased banking scrutiny appear to be curbing the rate of mortgage fraud in some areas of the country, including California and Nevada, prompting determined schemers to take their business to other states. Nearly a year after the FBI set up a task force in Southern California, the state has dropped from fourth place to eighth for mortgage fraud, according to a report released Monday by the Mortgage Asset Research Institute, a branch of data firm LexisNexis.
February 12, 2009 |
A suspect in a nationwide mortgage fraud scheme who fled the country was caught at the Canadian border with $1 million in Swiss bank certificates and $70,000 stuffed in his cowboy boots, authorities said Wednesday. Christopher J. Warren, 27, also was carrying 4 ounces of platinum valued at $1,420 an ounce when he was arrested early Wednesday while entering the United States at Buffalo, N.Y. After he disappeared Feb. 3, Warren was charged with conspiracy, fraud and conducting a continuing financial crime.