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Mortgage fraud is on the rise in the U.S., with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) receiving more than 46,000 "Suspicious Activity Reports" involving mortgage fraud in 2007 -- compared to 35,617 reports in 2006, and 6,936 in 2003.
The FBI's 2007 Mortgage Fraud Report contains detailed information on data and trends related to mortgage fraud, which can include false appraisal scams, foreclosure rescue fraud, "builder-bailout" schemes, and identity thefts in which home equity credit lines are opened and drained. The FBI expects current downward trends in the housing market to give "further incentive for shady real estate industry insiders to look for dishonest ways to turn a profit and growing opportunities for scam artists to prey on vulnerable homeowners." The FBI's warnings on mortgage fraud come as U.S. home foreclosures reach record highs, according to the Wall Street Journal.