The state of Missouri announced the formation of a department mortgage fraud task force.
The task force, led by Richard Weaver, deputy director for the Division of Finance, consists of personnel from the Insurance Consumer Affairs Division, the Real Estate Commission and the Real Estate Appraisers Commission.
“Mortgage fraud affects lenders, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, appraisers and, most important, consumers,” said Doug Ommen, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration. “I have asked this task force to look at this issue from all sides to come up with common-sense solutions to prevent consumers from being stripped of their equity or facing foreclosure.”
The committee is reviewing ways to educate lenders, brokers, real estate agents, appraisers and consumers to recognize mortgage fraud and hold wrongdoers accountable. They are also reviewing a bill in the Missouri Senate that would criminalize the act of participating in mortgage fraud.
“Currently, Missouri is ranked sixth in the nation for the number of mortgage fraud cases,” said Sen. Charles Shields, R-St. Joseph, Missouri, sponsor of the bill. “This is totally unacceptable and we must create strict penalties to prevent this unlawful behavior.”
“It is especially troubling that some persons – even consumers, believe that falsifying documentation in a real estate sale or financing is an acceptable practice,” Weaver said.
“Educating consumers and real estate professionals combined with strict criminal sanctions may provide the change needed to protect consumers and to assure Missouri citizens access to honest and affordable real estate and mortgage markets,” Ommen said.