Reports of suspected mortgage fraud increased 31 percent in 2011 with more than four-fifths of the cases involving older loans. In many cases, authorities are reviewing Notary journal records as part of their investigations, and they have noted a pattern of misused or stolen Notary seals in many fraud schemes.
According to the latest report from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), identity fraud also continues to play a major role in the scams; and mortgage, property records and real estate industry professionals indicate that identity fraud is their number one concern.
2011 saw a record number of mortgage fraud reports (92,028) filed by financial institutions, FinCEN noted. Banks are taking a hard look at older, delinquent loans, as 81 percent of the reports involved loans originated three or more years ago.
Another recent survey conducted by Ernst Publishing — released at last month’s American Land Title Association conference — supports many of the findings in the FinCEN report. Forty percent of the survey respondents believed fraud increased in the past year, and 32 percent had personally encountered an instance of fraud.