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ID Theft in Worst Mortgage Fraud

Data security expert seeks tougher action fraudsters

BOSTON -- (April 3, 2007) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) have recently added to their joint efforts against mortgage fraud. Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, encouraged their cooperation and pressed for more action. According to Siciliano, identity thieves can be behind the most devastating instances of mortgage fraud.

"The most devastating instances of mortgage fraud are mixed with identity theft," said Siciliano. "Imagine not only having to beware of questionable mortgage lenders, but of someone else getting a home in your name. I encourage law enforcement agencies and the banking industry to take as much action as possible."

President of IDTheftSecurity.com (www.idtheftsecurity.com), Siciliano leads Fortune 500 companies and their clients in workshops that explore consumer education solutions for data security issues. On its Web site, the Privacy Learning Institute has featured Siciliano, a longtime identity theft speaker. Author of "The Safety Minute: 01," He has discussed identity theft and data security on CNBC, on NBC's "Today Show," FOX News, and elsewhere.

In response to a near doubling of yearly mortgage fraud–related Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) since 2004, the FBI and the MBA entered into an agreement to combat Mortgage Fraud. According to a March 8th news release, the law enforcement agency and lending association will make a Mortgage Fraud Warning Notice available.

Mortgage fraud received much attention in March:

• On March 29th, the Associated Press reported that Beazer Homes USA Inc. had "received a grand jury subpoena for documents as part of a federal investigation of possible fraud in the company's mortgage lending practices and other financial transactions."

• A report to be released in April by the Mortgage Asset Research Institute is expected to show increases in mortgage fraud across the nation. According to a March 28th article in The Salt Lake Tribune, the report will rank Utah as No. 1 in mortgage fraud for 2006 (the year the report analyzes).

• The March 28th edition of the Boston Herald reported statements from the Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. Under existing laws in the state, lenders that are not banks commit only a civil offense with mortgage fraud. The AG's proposal, if adopted, would subject these lenders to criminal charges for a widespread form of the activity.

• A March 13th article in The Sun News reported that South Carolina's Department of Consumer Affairs has called for a "crackdown on mortgage fraud."

"These and other efforts to put a stop to mortgage fraud are commendable," concluded Siciliano. "But we must take more action. The prevalence of identity theft makes recent increases in the filing of SARs all the more worrisome. We must track down, and shut down, not only mortgage fraudsters, but identity thieves. The last thing we want is for the two to exploit their synergies."

SOURCE: IDTheftSecurity.com

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