Federal officials jointly announced Tuesday the results of the Distressed Homeowner Initiative, which is the first nationwide effort focusing on fraud schemes that target struggling homeowners.
The Mortgage Fraud Working Group explores issues related to mortgage and subprime lending fraud.
Federal officials revealed the efforts have led to 530 criminal defendants charged (including 172 executives) in 285 federal criminal indictments or informations filed throughout the U.S.
The criminal cases involved more than 73,000 homeowner victims, and law enforcement estimated losses exceeded $1 billion.
Attorney General Eric Holder, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, FBI Associate Deputy Director Kevin L. Perkins, and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Jon Leibowitz made the joint announcement, the Justice Department stated in a release.
""With actions like those announced today, we send a very clear message: if you don't operate ethically, transparently, and within the boundaries of the law, we will not hesitate to act,"" said Donovan in the release.
FBI Associate Deputy Director Perkins, added, ""We recognize the negative impact that mortgage fraud and foreclosures have on our economy and on our communities. We cannot merely investigate after the fact. We must use intelligence and sophisticated techniques to identify and stop those who seek to defraud American homeowners. We will continue to work with our partners across the country to ensure the integrity of the housing market, and to keep our communities safe.""
In addition, the Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and other groups filed 110 federal civil cases against 153 defendants.
In those cases, officials identified 15,000 victims and estimated losses of more than $37 million.
Efforts have also been made to prevent struggling homeowners from becoming victims of fraud. Together, the Treasury Department and SIGTARP have shut down or forced into compliance more than 900 websites and web advertisers that were considered confusing or fraudulent. According to the release, the websites displayed the Treasury Seal and key TARP housing program names to deceive homeowners.
When combining the total efforts of federal and state criminal and civil cases, the initiative has identified and assisted more than 91,000 victims.[UPDATE]
The Justice Department released revised data in an updated release August 9, 2013.