Wednesday, May 20, 2009

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek Joins President Barack Obama at White House Bill Signing Ceremony for the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act‏

Today, Congressman Kendrick Meek and other congressional leaders joined President Barack Obama at a White House bill signing ceremony for the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on May 18th by a vote of 338 to 52.

Included in the Bill is Congressman Meek’s National Mortgage Fraud Task Force Act of 2009, which was first introduced by Meek in the last Congress.

“Foreclosures in Florida have gone from a problem to an epidemic,” said Congressman Kendrick Meek. “Evidence points that there is a direct correlation between foreclosures and mortgage fraud, either in a fraud for profit or fraud for property scheme. This legislation works to put those who perpetrate these crimes exactly where they should be – behind bars.”

From 2006 to 2007, there was a 168% increase in Florida in the number of real estate foreclosures. In 2008, the trend continued upward and Florida ranked second in the United States in foreclosure filings. In response, Miami-Dade County created a Mortgage Fraud Task Force. Over 100 arrests have been made of individuals causing over $40 million in mortgage fraud.

Rep. Meek’s legislation will create a Nationwide Mortgage Fraud Task Force to provide a nationwide response to end this disturbing trend in mortgage fraud offenses. The bill will provide a tool to prevent the victimization of individuals and businesses through effective education, legislation, regulation, law enforcement, and prosecution.

The Attorney General shall provide the Task Force with the appropriate staff and appoint one staff member to serve as Executive Director of the Task Force. The Task Force shall establish and oversee branches in each of the ten states determined by the Attorney General to have the highest concentration of mortgage fraud. The Task Force’s functions shall include organizing initiatives to investigate mortgage fraud, including initiatives to enforce state mortgage fraud laws, and provide related training to Federal, State, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies.

Mortgage fraud is one of the fastest growing white collar crimes in the United States. According to FBI statistics, the number of suspicious activity reports from financial institutions more than tripled from 17,127 in 2004 to 62,494 as of September 2008. The FBI reports that the dollar amount of mortgage fraud is well into the billions.

In 2006, 2007, and again in 2008, Florida ranked first in the United States for mortgage loans that contained alleged fraud against the lenders, according to the Mortgage Asset Research Institute.

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