California is expecting the arrival of a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, essentially a band of attorneys appointed the mission of pursuing civil and criminal cases of mortgage fraud, says the California Department of Justice.

The strike force will consist of 17 attorneys and eight special agents who will investigate violations of every step in the mortgage loan process, including:

  • predatory lending;
  • deceptive marketing;
  • illegal loan modification and foreclosure relief schemes;
  • fraudulent investment and money laundering for lending and foreclosure relief; and
  • corporate fraud involving wrongdoing in investment and securities related to subprime mortgages and false claims.

The state crackdown on mortgage malpractice is in response to the thousands of complaints the justice department received last year regarding scams and fraudulent schemes in foreclosure and mortgage procedures. In contrast to previous mortgage fraud investigation projects which focused on single types of violations, this particular strike force is purported to throw its net over a wider range of abuses in the industry.

first tuesday take: ‘Tis a noble crusade proposed by California state officials which deserves the support of crowds of victimized homeowners. Yet hold your cheer and applause until the criminals are actually corralled and prosecuted because up until now, even the federal boys have failed to pin down a single individual in the Big Bank-Lender Front for the schemes they promulgated leading up to the Great Recession and the current housing crisis. [For more information on how the banking industry got away, see the April 2011 first tuesday article, Retribution deferred: lenders prove too powerful to be prosecuted.]

The most pressing issue at stake here is reforming the deeply engrained systemic problems of the banking and lending industry. As we recall from due-on-sale history, mortgage banking has become the exclusive purview of the federal government, and that the source of all the financial ecstasy lies in jurisdictions on the other side of the continental divide. [For more information on how the due-on sale clause hampers long-term stability for California real estate, see the March 2011 first tuesday article, The due-on sale clause: barricading homeowners since ’82.]

The Mortgage Fraud Strike Force is welcome to avenge past crimes – they just better have some extra firepower for thwarting next year’s bad guys.

RE: “Prosecutor announces mortgage fraud crackdown” from the Orange County Register