Mortgage fraud increased in 2009, says LexisNexis

Mortgage fraud is on the rise, according to a new survey As homeowners struggling with their finances look to consolidate debt any way possible, including through mortgage refinancing, they should be aware that mortgage fraud cases rose yet again in 2009.

According to the latest report released Monday by LexisNexis’ Mortgage Asset Research Institute, incidents of mortgage fraud and misrepresentations by industry professionals increased by 7 percent from 2008 to 2009 in the U.S.

The increase was less than the 26 percent increase in mortgage fraud seen the year prior, with experts adding that the year-by-year percentage difference may not be as wide as the data indicates.

"While this is a noticeable increase, we believe that mortgage fraud is significantly understated, even during times of massive origination volumes," said Jennifer Butts, LexisNexis Mortgage Asset Research Institute manager of data processing.

"Lenders are facing hurdles with compliance, loss mitigation and staving off additional financial losses due to poor loan performance," added Denise James, LexisNexis Risk Solutions director of real estate solutions.

After holding the unfortunate title of the state with the highest rate of mortgage fraud for two of the last three years, Florida again overtook Rhode Island in 2009 as its residents suffered through three times the expected amount of fraud cases.