Mikulski Puts Funds in Federal Checkbook to Fight Mortgage Fraud

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Mikulski Puts Funds in Federal Checkbook to Fight Mortgage Fraud

MARYLAND - 12/10/2009

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Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee, announced a critical step forward in putting funds in the federal checkbook to track down and prosecute perpetrators of mortgage fraud. The funds are included in the CJS Appropriations Bill, which was approved by a House-Senate Conference Committee as part of Congress’ Fiscal Year 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Bill.

“It’s time to foreclose on the bad guys and stop the foreclosures on homes,” Chairwoman Mikulski said. “Like most Americans, I am outraged by the predatory practices, deceptive marketing and lending schemes that have swept across the country and especially in Maryland.”

Mortgage fraud is on the rise. More than 60,000 cases of mortgage fraud were reported in 2008, nearly 10 times as many in 2002. At the same time, resources to uncover and prosecute financial fraud were thinned as funding and personnel shifted to national security efforts after 9/11.

The fiscal year 2010 CJS bill includes $438.4 million for the Justice Department to combat financial fraud – a $63 million increase over last year. That translates into an additional $25 million for the FBI to fight mortgage and financial fraud this year. The FBI will have a total of $75 million to expand FBI Mortgage Fraud Task Forces across the country, hire 50 new agents and recruit 60 new forensic accountants to increase its field investigative capacity and ability to conduct complex financial investigations.

“I want people to know that the government is on their side,” Chairwoman Mikulski said. “We want all those who are just trying to keep their heads above water and buy a home to know that when they go to get a loan, they are dealing with honest, reputable dealers.”

Chairwoman Mikulski has led Senate efforts to put more funding in the federal checkbook to go after perpetrators of financial fraud. She secured $10 million in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act for the FBI to hire at least 25 new special agents to investigate mortgage fraud. At the time, it was the first and only federal funding for law enforcement specifically dedicated to cracking down on mortgage fraud.

In the next step of the Appropriations process, the Consolidated Appropriations Bill will be considered a final time by both the House and Senate before being sent to the President for his signature.

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