In an effort to crack down on new mortgage scams, US Senator Charles E. Schumer announced the introduction of new legislation to protect homeowners from the recent wave of housing scams that are plaguing homeowners across the country.
The Fighting Real Estate Fraud Act of 2009 establishes a competitive grant program in the Department of Justice for local District Attorney’s offices to battle real estate fraud said a statement from Schumer’s office.
The bill authorizes $100 million in grants for hiring specialized staff, such as investigators, forensic accountants, and attorneys, to offices demonstrating need for increased resources to combat mortgage scams.
Across the country, district attorneys, homeowner advocacy groups, state agencies and homeowners have had trouble investigating and prosecuting mortgage fraud cases due lack of staff and funding. The creation of Real Estate Fraud Units will help resolve these issues by employing staffers who will be able to focus exclusively on real estate crimes that plague homeowners and prosecute scammers for their crimes.
“Housing scams are a nationwide problem and they require a nationwide solution,” Senator Schumer said. “Homeowners in New York and across the country have suffered for too long because of scam artists who feel they can take advantage of people without any repercussions. These fraud units will help protect homeowners from these criminals and ensure that rather than walking away from their crimes, they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Last month, FBI director Robert Mueller told a Senate Judiciary Committee that mortgage fraud cases under investigation by his agency were up about 63% in the last year. "The schemes have evolved with the changing economy, targeting vulnerable individuals, victimizing them even as they are about to lose their homes," said Mueller.
The FBI has more than 2,600 cases open, with most of them involving losses of more than $1 million, Mueller said. That’s more than triple the number of three years ago and up from 2,400 cases Mueller said were open in May.