Mortgage fraud still a problem in Arizona

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The economy is slowly improving, and that's been good news for Arizona's housing market. But it has not stopped the high number of mortgage fraud cases.

Dena Benjamin is chief counsel with the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

Benjamin said that her office continues to receive hundreds of complaints involving foreclosure rescue scams, bogus loan modification deals, and rent-to-own ripoffs.

"Arizona was so hard hit during the foreclosure crisis. It's not surprising that it may be taking time to unwind that, and identify the mortgage fraud that's been occurring," Benjamin said. "We continue to see new scams and new trends."

A new Lexus-Nexus report ranks Arizona No. 4 in the country when it comes to mortgage fraud.

In fact, Arizona has been in the top five since the housing boom when lending guidelines were looser and cash deals more common.

Mortgage lender David Krushinsky of AmeriFirst said another type of mortgage fraud he's seeing involves home buyers who are lying about where they work, how much they make and where they intend to live.

"That's one of the biggest things of mortgage fraud is occupancy fraud," Krushinsy said. "People say they will use it as a primary residence, or a second home, and actually buy it as a rental because you get a better interest rate and lower down payment."

State and federal regulators have recently cracked down on dozens of bogus real estate deals.

Benjamin said there are a number of things consumers can do to protect themselves from becoming a victim of mortgage fraud.

  • Don't pay money up front 
  • Only work with licensed businesses
  • Read documents thoroughly before signing
  • Seek advisor/expert advice

"If it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is," Benjamin said.

If you are a victim of mortgage fraud or need to report a problem visit

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