The Justice Department charged 530 defendants in 11 states in connection with fraud schemes targeting homeowners, who lost an estimated $1 billion in fiscal year 2012, the department announced today.
Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the efforts of the Distressed Homeowner Initiative yielded 285 federal indictments, including charging 172 executives. The cases involved more than 73,000 homeowners being targeted. The department also announced 150 defendants face civil proceedings in connection with losses to more than 15,000 homeowners at $37 million.
“These comprehensive efforts represent an historic, government-wide commitment to eradicating mortgage fraud and related offenses across the country,” Holder said. “…As long as we continue to partner with a range of committed allies and engage the help of an informed public — there is good reason for confidence in where our anti-fraud efforts will take us from here.
From Oct. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012, the authorities focused on foreclosure rescue schemes, which typically target homeowners who have fallen behind on mortgage payments, the department said.
Holder noted a July indictment against five individuals in Texas in which they allegedly sent false military orders to lending organizations. The individuals allegedly claimed benefits given to service members and subsequently leased the homes to collect money on rental payments, Holder said.
At today’s press conference Holder shot down questions that the announcement was more of a campaign boost for President Barack Obama than a routine disclosure of fraud enforcement actions.
“The notion that this is a campaign event—I mean, there’s a logical break,” Holder said. “This thing started with the fiscal year last year and ends with fiscal year September 30. We’re now reporting on what happened over the past fiscal year. That’s what this was about.”
The attorney general was joined at today’s press conference by Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Kevin Perkins, FBI Associate Deputy Director; and Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.