The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced today that the Justice Department has indicted more than 400 defendants in 144 mortgage fraud cases. The indictments, part of a sting operation that began on March 1, was designed to “combat the threat mortgage fraud poses to the U.S. housing industry and worldwide credit markets,” according to an FBI statement.
“Operation Malicious Mortgage,” is “the culmination of substantial coordinated efforts during the last three and a half months to identify, arrest and prosecute mortgage fraud violators through the United States,” the FBI reports.
The Associated Press reports a suspected 53,000 mortgage fraud cases in 2007 alone, representing a 37,000-case increase from 2006, and a ten-fold increase from 2001-2002. AP cited statistics provided by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
In related news, the FBI statement said that it was “committed to” the prosecution of Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tanin, two former Bear Stearns portfolio managers who were arrested Thursday for securities fraud. According to The New York Times, the indictments are the first to be “brought against senior Wall Street executives linked to a tight credit market that has rattled global markets, led to more than $350 billion in write-offs, cost numerous executives their jobs and culminated in the demise of Bear Stearns.”