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Property valuation fraud risk index is up 40% over last year

California Tops Mortgage Fraud Index for Fourth Quarter


California now has the highest risk of mortgage fraud with an index value of 222, according to a report from Interthinx. Nevada, which had the highest index for the previous five quarters, drops to second place with an index of 220, and is closely followed by Arizona with an index of 211, according to the Mortgage Fraud Risk Report for the fourth quarter of 2009. Florida remains in fourth place at 179, while Colorado is fifth at 153. The occupancy fraud risk index rose 16% since last quarter, the first significant increase in the index since the fourth quarter of 2006. The magnitude of the quarter-on-quarter increase suggests that occupancy fraud risk will be a serious issue going forward, as continuing price declines and get-rich-quick schemes lure investors back into the market and as builders face continuing difficulty in moving unsold inventory. Despite a 4% quarter-on-quarter decrease, the property valuation fraud risk index is up 40% over last year and up more than 100% from two years ago.

Schemes involving short sales, real estate owned inventories, wholesale flipping, and refinancing by borrowers whose equity has been impaired by falling real estate values continue to drive this index. Interthinx analysts expect lenders to focus more closely on fraud risk mitigation as they work to emerge from the downturn. This will help guard against the potential for fraud as a large number of adjustable rate mortgage loans, especially option adjustable rate mortgages with negative amortization features which reset between now and the first quarter of 2012.

Mortgage Servicing News - February 18, 2010

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