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17 Governmental Agencies Form New Task Force

Federal and State Authorities in Maryland and Virginia Unite

Baltimore, Md. – (Feb. 20, 2009) Representatives of seventeen local, state and federal agencies today attended a meeting of the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force to discuss recent prosecutions and ongoing investigations and to coordinate future civil and criminal enforcement actions.

U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, “Local, state and federal regulatory and investigative agencies are working to coordinate our mortgage fraud enforcement actions, identify appropriate cases for investigation and devote resources to pursue them. Today the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force received briefings about recent cases in which we have pursued civil and criminal remedies for mortgage fraud, and we developed plans to hold even more con artists accountable and deter mortgage fraud in the future. We are going to seize cash, bank accounts, jewelry, artwork, houses, cars, boats and other assets that were purchased with ill-gotten gains, and return the money to the victims.”

The goals of the Task Force include:

(1) streamline the procedures for criminal mortgage fraud referrals;
(2) develop and implement a training program for state and federal investigators and prosecutors who handle mortgage fraud cases;
(3) share useful information with and facilitate cooperation among the many agencies that have a stake in these cases;
(4) track open investigations to ensure that partner agencies do not duplicate their efforts;
(5) pursue asset forfeiture and secure restitution for victims;
and (6) communicate information to the public in order to warn people about common schemes and help prevent them from becoming victims of mortgage fraud and related financial crimes.

Law enforcement objectives include prosecuting lawyers, accountants, appraisers and mortgage brokers who generate fraudulent loans and targeting schemes spawned by the mortgage crisis and economic downturn, such as so-called “foreclosure-prevention specialists” who prey on homeowners who fall behind on their mortgage payments.

The agenda for today’s meeting included briefings about recent mortgage fraud cases prosecuted in Maryland, an overview of mortgage fraud schemes and investigative strategies, a summary of civil and administrative remedies pursued by state agencies and a discussion of the Task Force’s objectives.

The following agencies participated in today’s Task Force meeting:

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation
Maryland Office of the Attorney General
Maryland Insurance Administration
Maryland Department of Human Resources
Maryland State Police
State’s Attorney’s Office for Baltimore City
State’s Attorney’s Office for Baltimore County
State’s Attorney’s Office for Montgomery County
State’s Attorney’s Office for Prince George’s County
United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Inspector General, Social Security Administration
Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
Inspector General, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division
U.S. Postal Inspection Service
U.S. Secret Service

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Biran is the Task Force coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Mr. Biran is a member of a nationwide network of federal mortgage fraud prosecutors, and he will maintain an email list that we will use to relay important information from the U.S. Department of Justice to members of the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force.

In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has hired a new prosecutor who specializes in pursuing forfeiture of assets that can be used to pay financial restitution to fraud victims.

For further information about the Mortgage Fraud Task Force, including instructions about how to report mortgage fraud and details about criminal mortgage fraud prosecutions, please visit www.usdoj.gov.

SOURCE: United State Department of Justice -- District of Maryland

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