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The Distressed Homeowner Initiative and mortgage fraud

Pennsylvania residents may benefit from learning more about the benefits of the FBI's Distressed Homeowner Initiative. The operation led to federal courts charging more than 100 criminal defendants with committing fraud against more than 17,000 homeowners during 2012. it is estimated that these actions led to losses by those homeowners of nearly $100 million. More than 19,100 victims filed federal lawsuits against total of 128 defendants. The total loss in the civil action cases was projected to approximate $54 million.

The Distressed Homeowner Initiative was actually a collaboration between local, state and federal agencies and was initiated during October 2011. The FBI claims that loan origination fraud cases increased by around 300 percent between 2009 and 2012. Many of the fraudulent offenses were allegedly targeted at the 22 percent of the homeowners who were underwater on their loans. The Bureau believes that this is a trend that will continue in the future.

The FTC had prohibited companies providing mortgage assistance services and loan modifications from taking service fees in advance, and many of the defendants and perpetrators attempted to circumvent these rules. The Bureau published documents depicting a defendant instructing employees to become invisible to avoid being located by spurned homeowners. Many of the high-priority perpetrators were identified by the FBI and FTC due to the high number of consumer complaints.

People who have been accused of committing fraud often benefit from consulting with a criminal defense attorney who may be able to investigate the allegations and begin developing strategies to help defend the client. Defendants may be exonerated, or the charges may be reduced, if the defense can successfully challenge the prosecution's assertions.

Source: FBI, "Distressed Homeowner Initiative", November 04, 2014

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