A CNBC poll ranked Maryland the 10th most fraudulent state when it comes to securing mortgages. The ranking is based on the FBI’s mortgage fraud index of 2010 and reports from 2011 to FinCEN, a financial crimes division of the United States Department of the Treasury.
According to the report, Maryland scores a 20 out of 100 on the mortgage fraud index, with 1 representing the best and 100 the worst of offenders. And in the third quarter of 2011, financial institutions filed suspicious activity reports, SARs, against 153 people. Really?
Maybe even one case of the financial SARs hurts honest businesses and homeowners, but in a state with an estimated 5.8 million people, 60 percent of which defined themselves as homeowners on the U.S. Census, are we really behaving that badly that we need to make another “worst of” list?
What I would like to know is the nature of the suspicious activity. Sure, we know deception is costly to businesses, which is usually passed on to us taxpayers – and we are very tired of that. But in addition to the type of fraud we’d expect to be included in these findings, Cindi Dixon, CEO of Mela Capital Group, a mortgage quality control risk management firm, notes a rising trend in organized crime rings acquiring property fraudulently to use as home bases for drug and human trafficking. That not only takes a toll on our financial health, but our human spirit as well.