Mortgage fraud

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This research will begin with the statement that the dream of owning a home is running away from reality due to the increase in the number mortgage frauds. Misguided real estate professionals and dishonesty homeowners are fleecing homeowners billions of dollars through mortgage scams. Mortgage fraud can be defined as the intentional misrepresentations, omissions to fund or secure a loan that is designed to acquire mortgage financing using fraudulent or stolen identification documents or false financial and income statements. Inflated real estate properties and high property taxes have made homeownership rarely accessible to the honest citizens. Statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that real estate fraud is the most rampant white –collar crime in the United States. From 2003-2004, mortgage fraud crime rates increased by 146% while during the period 2004-2005, the rate increased further by another 29%. According to industry figures, losses from real estate frauds run in to millions of dollars annually in Canada. Most criminal groupings are responsible for the mortgage scams. Mortgages frauds leave individuals with high property taxes, inflated property prices and adverse credit histories. In Canada, mortgage fraud is mainly concentrated in Ontario and Alberta though some cases occur in other Cities. Combating mortgage fraud has not been possible since as soon a law is enacted, the con artists devise other loopholes in the real estate market which they use to defraud the homeowners. 4. The crime is becoming more sophisticated due to technological innovations which have made it easy for the criminal groups to obtain personal information like identification and financial statements through the internet. Majority of the financial institutions depend on automated systems to underwrite and value the property, to conduct financial strengths and capabilities of the borrower and to generate financial statements hence it is difficult for the lender to detect the fraudulent and falsified financial statements5. Risk factors for mortgage frauds Political, social economic and technological advancements can impact on the magnitude of mortgage frauds. The competitive banking industry during periods of economic boom and the customer pressures for the mortgage interest rates have increased rates of mortgage crime. Financial institutions avoid losing commissions and fees thus they may not conduct due diligence in mortgage approvals6. Technological innovations such as the internet communications and e-commerce involve widespread exchange of personal information and identity documents over the internet. Criminals may fraudulently obtain personal information over the internet thus using it to defraud the customer or acquire mortgages fraudulently. Criminal gangs are also utilizing the internet to conduct their illegal activities since with modern communications individuals do not need to physically meet in order to conduct a business transaction7. Mortgage frauds mainly involve numerous players in the financial industry insiders. Vendors, lawyers, credit rating agencies and real estate agents and mortgage brokers knowingly give consent to the use of false financial statements or will conduct false appraisals of the financial strength of the purchaser. Fraud for property also occurs when dishonest lenders lead the borrowers to buying houses which they may not be able to service. The lenders assist the borrower to submit false financial statements, income and asset records8. Types of mortgage frauds There are numerous types of frauds involved in the real estate industry. The frauds range from undisclosed kickbacks to falsifying income and employment information. The first type of mortgage fraud is the occupancy fraud. The fraud occurs when the mortgage borrower anticipates acquiring an investment property and states in his or her loan application documents that the property will be a second home or the