The Office of the Inspector General has released a report charging that the U.S. Justice Department did not match its public statements that mortgage fraud was a priority with actual action, something millions of Americans have figured out on their own.
In its report, it said “The OIG further found significant deficiencies in DOJ’s ability to report accurately on its mortgage fraud efforts.”
The OIG found that the FBI, which received $196 million in taxpayer money from 2009 through 2011, ranked mortgage fraud as the lowest criminal threat in its lowest crime category. This occurred at the same time that mortgage servicing companies were committing massive fraud against homeowners in distress by implementing “robo-signing” to hasten foreclosures, something for which, to my knowledge, there have been no criminal convictions brought by the U.S. DOJ.
In addition, the OIG said it could not accurately verify the scope of the U.S. DOJ’s prosecutorial efforts against mortgage fraud because it was not provided with sufficient data.
“DOJ could not provide readily verifiable data related to its criminal enforcement efforts because of underreporting and misclassification of mortgage fraud cases in the case management system used by the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA),” the report reads.
According to an article published on CNBC, “One glaring example of inaccurate reporting was cited by the OIG. Specifically, it says, the Justice Department inflated the number of criminal defendants by five-fold during an October 2012 highly publicized press conference. The event was held to tout the success of the Distressed Homeowners Initiative, a mortgage fraud program involving the Justice Department and the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. It took a year for the Justice Department to correct the mistake.”
An August 2013 article in Mother Jones reports the same self-serving inflating by U.S. DOJ.
In its defense, Department of Justice spokesperson Ellen Canale said: “The facts regarding the department’s work on mortgage fraud tell a much different story than this report. In the time period in question, the number of mortgage fraud indictments nearly doubled, and the number of convictions rose by more than 100 percent. As the report itself notes, even at a time of constrained budget resources, the department has dedicated significant manpower and funding to combatting mortgage fraud.”
Note: if mortgage fraud itself rose 10,000% during the indicated time period, how meaningful is it to say that convictions rose 100%?