From Chicago Tribune:
Promising to continue to make the investigation of mortgage fraud a priority, federal authorities in Chicago announced charges in five schemes on Tuesday that involved properties ranging from dilapidated houses on the South Side to pricey condominiums in a River North high-rise.
The cases included charges against 37 people and four companies, and some $48 million in mortgages that allegedly were fraudulently obtained.
I’m reminded of a case from my home town back in Kansas that finally saw some measure of justice late last year. From Kansas City Business Journal in Dec. of 2008:
Kansas City builder F. Jeffrey Miller and two business associates were convicted on federal charges of conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering in a $5 million mortgage fraud scheme, acting U.S. Attorney Marietta Parker said Friday.
In May 2006 , the U.S. Department of Justice charged Miller, 47, of Stanley, with organizing a $25 million scheme to boost his business through conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering.
One of the last times I visited my childhood home, before my folks moved further south in search of better fishing, I saw that Miller had built a huge mansion across the street, where there used to be a field and a pond. My guess is his current quarters are considerably smaller, say on the order of 80 square feet.
Obviously, it’s not true that all real estate agents, title companies and builders are crooks. Our real estate agent and loan broker have both been stand up folks here in Washington state. They’re quality folks who live in the community and don’t rip people off. The guy who built our house here did a pretty good job overall. And while some folks may lean Republican, the sensible ones are a little more sanguine about their ideology and are willing to grant that maybe sometimes rules have to be enforced for the greater good.
The criminality in the industry has affected the entire economy, and while it’s fashionable in some right wing quarters to throw hissy fits about a Democratic administration, the bitter truth is that this economic calamity was caused by a lack of sensible regulation and the unbridled greed of people who are no better than street criminals. Frankly they have done an amount of harm greater than all the street criminals ever could, at least in dollar amounts.
What remains to be seen is how many more of these white collar lawbreakers are brought to justice, and if the building and banking industries will ever come to their senses and realize that tolerating criminality works against the long term interests of legitimate business people.