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Terry Goddard, Eric Holder Pledge Aggressive Fight against Mortgage Fraud

(Phoenix, Ariz. – March 25, 2010) Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today pledged a broad and intensified fight to prevent, prosecute and punish mortgage fraud in Arizona, aided by an additional $1.7 million in federal funding. 

The money for Arizona is a big share of an additional $8 million the U.S. Department of Justice will spend nationally this year to step up mortgage fraud enforcement. 

“Arizona’s economic recovery lags the rest of the nation in large part because of the foreclosure crisis and the high volume of housing fraud here,” Goddard said. “My Office has been cracking down on bad actors who prey on struggling Arizona families, and our partnership with federal law enforcement will bring even more resources to this fight.”  

Holder, who said mortgage fraud has reached “crisis proportions” nationally, noted that the FBI is working on some 2,800 housing fraud cases across the country, including 400 in Arizona. 

“We’re using every tool at our disposal, and we will use the information gathered here today to focus and strengthen our efforts,” Holder said. “To those who would engage in mortgage fraud schemes, from executives in major lending institutions to individual scam artists, I have one message: “You will be found, you will be prosecuted, and you will be punished.”   

Today’s summit included sessions on mortgage fraud trends in Arizona and the impact of fraud on families and communities. In a private afternoon session, task force members met with law enforcement and regulatory officials. 

Metropolitan Phoenix ranks fourth in the nation for the number of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) filed by financial institutions concerning suspected mortgage fraud. Arizona ranks No. 1 nationally in foreclosures of homes funded by the Federal Housing Administration. 

The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force includes representatives from a number of federal agencies, regulatory authorities and state and local law enforcement. Working together, they bring a strong array of criminal and civil enforcement resources to combat mortgage fraud.  Today’s summit was the second such event, following a February meeting in Florida, which has the nation’s highest level of housing fraud.

For additional information, contact Molly E. Edwards at (602) 542-8019.