Situation likened to a “state of emergency”
TALLAHASSEE, FL – March 26, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that he has sent a letter to several state agencies and associations, including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Office of Financial Regulation, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Florida Bar, calling for a cooperative approach to the state’s mortgage fraud crisis. The Attorney General noted that his office has received hundreds, if not thousands, of complaints on various issues related to mortgage fraud including criminal fraud and foreclosure rescue fraud.
“This mortgage fraud crisis is similar to a state of emergency – it will take an all-hands-on-deck approach between our state’s agencies to effectively address our citizens’ concerns,” said Attorney General McCollum. “We must work together if we are going to make a difference.”
The Attorney General urged his colleagues to develop a plan of action for triaging and referring mortgage fraud complaints and encouraged participation at the local levels as well. After opening the lines of communication between agencies, the Attorney General’s Office will work with contacts throughout the state’s local regions to help ensure complaints are reviewed by the appropriate entity, depending on the allegations and any potential regulatory oversight.
Last year, complaints to the Attorney General’s Office about mortgage fraud topped every other complaint topic. The Attorney General was instrumental in the creation of a new law, which took effect on October 1, 2008, providing consumer protection against foreclosure rescue fraud. Since the law took effect in October, the Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division as part of the Mortgage Fraud Task Force has filed five civil lawsuits against companies in violation of the law, has reached settlements with another five companies, and has 39 active investigations pending.
Additionally, the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution has charged 40 defendants with criminal mortgage fraud charges since 2007, most investigated by the Department of Law Enforcement and other criminal investigative partners.
The following individuals were sent letters from the Attorney General:
Gerald M. Bailey, Commissioner, Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Chuck Drago, Secretary, Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation
Alex Hager, Interim Commissioner, Office of Financial Regulation
Col. Vicki L. Cutcliff, Director, Division of Insurance Fraud, Department of Financial Services
Mark Ober, President, Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association
John Hogenmuller, Executive Director, Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association
William Farmer, Jr., President, Florida Sheriffs Association
Gary Perkins, Executive Director, Florida Sheriffs Association
Chief Gerald Monahan, President, Florida Police Chiefs Association
Amy Mercer, Executive Director, Florida Police Chiefs Association
John G. White, III, President, The Florida Bar
Mr. John F. Harkness, Jr., Executive Director, The Florida Bar
An example of the letter is available online at: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-7QHHST/$file/MortgageFraudLetter.pdf
Contact: Sandi Copes
Phone: (850) 245-0150