Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Mortgage Fraud Challenges: How to Catch a Crook

Chairman & Managing Director

Two of our Directors will be attending the MBA’s “Risk Management, QA & Fraud Prevention Forum,” held in Los Angeles, in September. Attending this venue will be Brandy George, who is the Executive Director of LCG Quality Control and Michael Pfeifer, who is a Director of Legal and Regulatory Compliance. I remember attending the first forum many years ago. The attendance was modest. Although risk management was strengthening, I felt the term risk management was much too broad, as it could be (and was) applied to many industries. So, I coined the term “Mortgage Risk Management” and it caught on! My view has been that mortgage banking poses a unique set of risks that require significant knowledge, experience, and expertise. Turns out, this insight has been reinforced over the years. Now, this event is highly attended and is brimming with new ways to handle quality assurance, mortgage fraud prevention, and risk management oversight.

As I contemplated this forthcoming conference, I thought of the difficulties that mortgage originators have in handling the challenges of mortgage fraud in particular. This is a nasty business and not for the faint hearted! When my firm conducts audits of the loan flow process, it is not unusual to find gaps – perhaps ‘chasms’ is a better word! – in a company’s procedures for managing mortgage fraud risk. It still surprises me, after so many decades in mortgage banking compliance and financial institution management, that the fraudsters seem to have no limit to their scheming, conniving, crafty, wily, and underhanded cunning. These guys are as slippery as a darkly oleaginous grease slick.

Maybe I can’t stop these swindlers and shysters from doing what they do, but I can let you know some of the lessons my firm, Lenders Compliance Group®, has learned in knowing how to identify and trap them. I may not have all the answers, but I sure do have a lot of experience in hooking the crook. So, come with me on a brief walk through the mortgage fraud maze, as I jot down some of my reflections, and perhaps you should consider using some of my ideas to fine-tune your own mortgage fraud prevention procedures.

Let’s start with a simple outline of what fraudsters do!

During the mortgage lending process, a fraudster is a person who knowingly does any of the following:

  • Makes, uses, or facilitates any deliberate misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission with the intention that it be relied upon by a mortgage lender, borrower, or any other party to the mortgage lending process;
  • Receives any proceeds or any other funds in connection with a closing involving mortgage fraud; or
  • Files or causes to be filed with the county recorder, any document that contains a deliberate misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission.

In my view, there are two types of mortgage fraud: the first is fraud for property, and the second is fraud for profit.