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Gwinnett County Police continue to enforce new laws
The following article by Douglas Sams is reproduced by courtesy of The Gwinnett Daily Post.
The United States has a long history of shady deals, but the conditions that have given rise to mortgage fraud have never been as favorable, say numerous reports on the crime. Metro Atlanta is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States, and Gwinnett leads the pack ever year in new home construction.
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But more factors explain the spread of mortgage fraud. The emergence of the Internet over the past decade enabled more personal financial transactions over the Web. That gave rise to identity theft, which is a close cousin of mortgage fraud.
A real estate transaction has many players, including appraisers, Realtors and loan officers. But Wyatt said closing attorneys like her play such an important role in the final steps of the process that they have the most power to prevent fraud. For years, Wyatt said she never encountered much swindling, but five years ago that began to change. At least the arrests are leading more homeowners to ask her to look at Converse Sandals White
A false appraisal sends home values and property taxes in a neighborhood soaring, even as homes hit by mortgage fraud often go vacant and fall into disrepair. That happens because the people who end up living there can afford the mortgage and the house is eventually put under foreclosure.
Another important element to the problem of mortgage fraud: Thieves are drawn to the con because it more lucrative and much safer than other criminal pursuits. "One fraud alone can net as little as $5,000 from the table, but maybe even $60,000, $70,000 even $300,000," McLaughlin said. "Think about that. The money might even be better than the narcotics trade, and you don have to worry about getting killed."
One of the early stars of the campaign is Gwinnett real estate attorney Robin Wyatt. Earlier this summer a group of con artists tried to trick the 15 year veteran of real estate law. They used bogus liens, forged documents and fake real estate appraisals hoping to secure a $205,000 loan on a house valued at $140,000. Wyatt helped set up the first sting and arrests under the state new mortgage fraud law.
Meanwhile, the Gwinnett County Police Department says it swamped with tips. Sgt. Bill Jack leads a computer crimes squad that is the only investigation team in the state taking on mortgage fraud. His four detectives add about 25 new cases every month, Jack said.
the woodwork every day," Assistant Attorney General David McLaughlin said. "Prosecutors now have a quick and simple way to attack these cases because of the statute."
With its consistently strong housing market, metro Atlanta is one of the worst hit spots in the nation, according to a May report issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. No wonder thieves see the chance to hit the jackpot. This year $2.5 trillion in mortgage loans will be offered to homebuyers, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Overworked law enforcement agencies may have to increase staff to deal with the increased caseload, but even at the risk of burnout, Converse Shoes For Girls 2018 With Price McLaughlin likes the effect of the statute especially the attention it has drawn. "When homeowners are getting approached with one of these offers, what we are doing is on their mind and they are thinking about whether they are seeing yet another scam," McLaughlin said.
their real estate contracts. Sometimes, the fraud is easy to spot.
Now, an unprecedented number of mortgage lenders empty their pockets to potential homebuyers across the country. Often, the lenders are out of state and never even see the property, making the fixed documents of a scam even easier to pull off, McLaughlin said.
Things are no less busy at the state attorney general office. "New cases are coming out of Converse High Tops Australia
Often, the fraud involves stealing money from a lender through forged documents and false property appraisals. Once the bank cuts the check for more than the home is worth, the crook pockets the money. Usually, the house is left vacant and later foreclosed. But law enforcement officials say word is getting out about Georgia tough anti fraud statute. Real estate attorneys are noticing and reporting more suspicious contracts. More homeowners are recognizing dubious offers, such as bids to buy a home for thousands more than its market value.
Three months after Georgia new mortgage fraud act took effect, Gwinnett is center stage for the crackdown on cheats and swindlers. Since the law went on the books in May, police have arrested 14 people suspected of trying to pull off mortgage fraud a type of theft so pervasive local, state and federal law enforcement say it plagues low income, middle class and ritzy neighborhoods alike.
The residential turnover in the market is substantial. Older residents are downsizing to smaller houses, younger families are putting down payments on their first dream home and low interest rates have prompted more lower income workers into the home buying frenzy.
"I saw the back of a home in DeKalb completely burned out," Wyatt said. "The people staying there couldn afford heat, so they lit a campfire on the rug."
"You know something is probably wrong when the buyer name is Rags to Riches Real Estate," Wyatt said.
The scams have many victims, both old and young, rich and poor.
Another factor the abundance of loans on the market for homeowners. In the old days, the Federal Housing Administration opened up the market by offering mortgages to people who usually couldn afford them. It was the early when only four in 10 households owned their home.
Other states are noticing the work, said Kevin Ludden, lead investigator with the Federal Home Mortgage Corp. in Washington, which buys mortgages from banks and repackages them as investment securities. Known as Freddie Mac, it has one of every six loans in the country. "We pleased to see more arrests," Ludden said. "We know the mortgage fraud statute has been successful just by looking at all the sting operations, primarily in Gwinnett."
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