By US Daily Review Staff.
Although mortgage fraud continues to eat up government resources, the latest data indicate activity is leveling off. But the worst state saw deterioration.
The First-Quarter 2012 Mortgage Fraud Index from MortgageDaily.com was 1151, inching up from the fourth quarter and worsening from a year earlier.
The highest index on record was 2790 in the fourth-quarter 2008.
The index, an offshoot of the Mortgage Litigation Index, reflects mostly criminal cases tracked by the mortgage fraud blog FraudBlogger.com where a lender was deceived into credit approval. Foreclosure rescue schemes are typically excluded unless equity stripping involving straw buyers was utilized.
While the Mortgage Fraud Index isn’t scientific, it does reflect the volume of cases tying up law enforcement and clogging the courts.
“Activity has been fairly consistent as smaller mortgage bankers hit with repurchases continue to uncover fraud committed during the housing boom years,” according to Mortgage Daily Founder and Publisher Sam Garcia, who spent two decades in mortgage lending before going full-time with the news business in 2000. “We continue to see a correlation between elevated fraud levels and foreclosures in states like Arizona, California and Florida.”
Garcia said most of the cases involve crimes committed at least five years ago, an indication that improved technology and stepped-up fraud prevention are reducing losses on recent vintages.
The highest state index was in Florida, which has held the No. 1 title four out of the past five quarters.
North Carolina ascended to the top five the first time since the index debuted in 2006.
Top State Indices
Based on dollar amount, Florida was No. 1, more than doubling from the prior quarter. Florida has been among the top-five states in almost every report since the index launched.
Top States by Amount
Full First-Quarter 2012 Mortgage Fraud Index report: