Despite claims to the contrary, a new audit reveals that mortgage fraud has not been a big priority at the FBI.
The number of FBI agents investigating these crimes and the cases they handled declined in fiscal 2011 even though the agency received $196 million between fiscal 2009 and 2011 to specifically target such activities. In a statement, the inspector general's office wrote the Justice Department "did not uniformly ensure that mortgage fraud was prioritized at a level commensurate with DOJ’s public statements about the importance of pursuing financial frauds cases in general and mortgage fraud cases in particular."
The nature of mortgage fraud schemes has evolved in recent years. When the housing market was in full swing, the most prevalent schemes involved people purchasing homes, sometimes by hiding their debt or exaggerating their income. More recently, the fraud has shifted to such arrangements as foreclosure rescue scams and loan modification schemes that victimize the public.
The inspector general's office has charged Justice with shoddy record-keeping, calling to task "significantly flawed information" that was released to the public regarding the Distressed Homeowners Initiative.