U.S. mortgage fraud sweep results in nearly 500 arrests
The U.S. authorities have made nearly 500 arrests in three and a half months in so far the largest collective enforcement effort to fight mortgage fraud, the Department of Justice said on Thursday.
The sweep, called Operation Stolen Dreams, was organized by President Barack Obama's interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, with an aim to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The Department of Justice, the FBI, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other government agencies coordinated in the operation, Xinhua reported.
Starting in March, the operation has so far involved 1,215 criminal defendants nationwide, including 485 arrests, who are allegedly responsible for more than 2.3 billion dollars in losses, Attorney General Eric Holder told a news conference.
In addition, the operation has resulted in 191 civil enforcement actions which have resulted in the recovery of more than 147 million dollars.
"Mortgage fraud ruins lives, destroys families and devastates whole communities, so attacking the problem from every possible direction is vital," said Holder. "We will use every tool available to investigate, prosecute and prevent mortgage fraud, and we will not rest until anyone preying on vulnerable American homeowners is brought to justice."
"The success of this operation is a direct result of our unprecedented focus not just on federal criminal cases, but also on civil enforcement, recovering funds for victims and increasing cooperation with state and local partners," he added.
The attorney general said mortgage fraud takes on all shapes and sizes. In Miami, law enforcement officers arrested on Wednesday two suspects who allegedly targeted the Haitian-American community, often claiming they would assist them with immigration and housing issues, but then instead using victims' personal information to produce false documents to obtain mortgage loans.