Several times, we have discussed the trend we have seen towards more federal investigations and arrests in mortgage fraud cases in Florida and Jacksonville. Federal authorities are responding to the tremendous meltdown in the housing markets and numerous mortgages that have gone unpaid. In many local U.S. Attorney offices in Florida, mortgage fraud cases used to occupy a relatively small percentage of the caseload. However, since the mortgage and housing crisis, some offices in Florida have so many mortgage fraud cases that all of the prosecutors have one or more of them.
The trends towards increased federal prosecution of mortgage fraud cases certainly includes the Jacksonville, Florida market. According to a recent article on News4Jax.com, there were twenty-four recent mortgage fraud related arrests in Jacksonville. There were over one hundred such arrests throughout Florida. Florida is obviously a major target for mortgage fraud related criminal cases due to the sheer volume of real estate and real estate transactions in the state. For some reason, many people consider Jacksonville the number one city in Florida for mortgage fraud.
However, the crime of mortgage fraud is often not black and white like some other crimes. What one prosecutor or FBI agent calls mortgage fraud, someone else may call good business or a misunderstanding on behalf of one of the parties to the mortgage transaction. Whether a transaction is a mortgage fraud crime or not may depend on what disclosures were made, whether verbal or in writing. There are often honest and legitimate differences of opinion between what one side considers a legitimate way of conducting business and the other side considers a serious felony crime. When law enforcement casts the net of arrests so wide so quickly, it is certainly likely that many of these cases fall on the legitimate business side of the line.