Officials announced the arrest of 485 people for mortgage fraud as part of a nationwide takedown on Thursday. The individuals are allegedly responsible for more than $2.3 billion in losses according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Organized by the the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, “Operation Stolen Dreams” targeted mortgage fraudsters throughout the country and is the largest collective enforcement effort ever brought to bear in confronting mortgage fraud said the FBI.
In addition to the 485 arrests, the operation involved 1,215 criminal defendants nationwide and has resulted in 191 civil enforcement actions, resulting in the recovery of more than $147 million.
“Mortgage fraud ruins lives, destroys families and devastates whole communities, so attacking the problem from every possible direction is vital,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “We will use every tool available to investigate, prosecute and prevent mortgage fraud, and we will not rest until anyone preying on vulnerable American homeowners is brought to justice.”
Unlike previous mortgage fraud sweeps, Operation Stolen Dreams focused not only on federal criminal cases, but also on civil enforcement, recovering money for victims and increasing cooperation with state and local partners.
“From home buyers to lenders, mortgage fraud has had a resounding impact on the nation’s economy,” said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III. “Those who prey on the housing market should know that hundreds of FBI agents on task forces and their law enforcement partners are tracking down your schemes and you will be brought to justice.”
Below is an image showing a summary of the results:
As part of the operation, the US Attorney’s Office in Atlanta prosecuted one of the first reverse mortgage fraud cases in the country said the FBI. The case is also the first prosecution involving alterations to a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) routinely relied upon by appraisers, realtors, tax assessors and others in the mortgage industry to establish accurate property valuations.
RMD reported on the case earlier this year in which the defendants faked down payments and arranged inflated appraisals to create bogus equity of up to $100,000 in the properties securing these reverse mortgage loans, while diverting loan proceeds to themselves.
HUD’s OIG said it’s asking the public for help in locating one of the individuals involved in the reverse mortgage fraud scheme. Gia Joy Glasse-Harris, also known as Gia Harris, is currently on probation and faces up to 10 years in jail for parole violation in Decatur, Georgia. If you have seen this individual or, you know of her whereabouts, please call HUD OIG investigators at 404-425-8932. For more information click here.