With foreclosures at record highs and dominating the news, maybe mortgage fraud will get the attention it deserves! Check out this story from Fox News below.
Official: FBI Agents Going Undercover to Target Fraud in Mortgage Companies
Friday, March 20, 2009
FOX News’ Mike Levine contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON — The undercover agent may be a familiar player in drug investigations and mafia busts, but it turns out that undercover work also is under way in the FBI’s campaign to fight mortgage fraud.
FBI Deputy Director John Pistole, at a hearing Friday before the House Committee on Financial Services, said that agents have been sent undercover into companies to fight fraud and stem larger economic problems.
“The FBI has implemented new and innovative methods to detect and combat mortgage fraud … [including] undercover operations and wiretaps,” Pistole said. “These investigative measures not only result in the collection of valuable evidence, they also provide an opportunity to apprehend criminals in the commission of their crimes, thus reducing loss to individuals and financial institutions.”
The use of undercover agents is nothing new in the FBI’s effort to combat mortgage fraud. In September 2004, the agency announced action against 205 people in a nationwide investigation of financial institution fraud that included numerous cases of mortgage fraud. Undercover agents helped build some of those cases.
But the emphasis on mortgage fraud and other financial crimes has only increased in the recent economic downturn, which has partly been blamed on criminal or careless actions in the financial sector.
Pistole said there were “several” such undercover investigations under way, though it wasn’t immediately clear how they were being carried out and who was being targeted.
How do you avoid becoming a victim of mortgage fraud?
- Ask your friends, family, etc. for a recommendation for a reputable mortgage professional.
- Shop around! Check with a couple different lenders. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Have each person quote you their rates and closing costs on the same type of loan. For example, a lower interest rate may be available but you may be paying for it in your closing cost. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Make sure that all the information you provide is truthful! Review all documents before signing to make sure they reflect the information you provided to your lender.
- Never sign blank, incomplete, or inaccurate pages or documents.
- Know what you are signing! Bring all of your loan information to the closing to compare against the loan documents if necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Do not sign documents that you haven’t read or don’t understand.
- Make sure you receive a complete set of the documents you sign at closing. Don’t leave the table without them!
- When in doubt, hire an attorney to review any documents you do not understand before you sign!