Un articulo en la BBC que redunda en lo mismo.
A falling market often brings fraud to light
La caida del mercado inmobiliario acaba aflorando el fraude a relucir.
Property price inflation can mask a multitude of sins
La hinchazón de precios inmobiliarios puede enmascarar una multitud de pecados.
Monday, 30 April 2007
With house prices rising by double-digit percentages each year, it would hardly be surprising if conmen and fraudsters were licking their lips at the prospect of such a juicy target.
In the US, they certainly have been.
"On 30 September 2006, we had 818 pending cases," says Bill Stern, the supervisory special agent in charge of mortgage fraud at the FBI's Washington DC headquarters. "As of 24 April 2007, we have 1,079."
In Spain, meanwhile, a string of big-money corruption and money laundering cases involving property have hit the headlines as the market for new holiday homes there has boomed - and could now be about to bust.
But could it happen here?
According to police and other experts, it already has.
On the most basic level, there are the cases where people lie to buy a home for themselves.
Cases like that of Wayne Larkins, the former England cricketer who narrowly escaped a jail sentence after his partner forged her sick father's signature in an attempt to take out a £155,000 mortgage on his house.
Or as house prices and interest rates seem to rise inexorably, there are the people who lie about their income to get a toe-hold on the property ladder.
But some people's ambitions soar much higher, as organised criminals across the UK play the property market to launder the profits of their activities.
Crucial to their activities are a small minority of property professionals - estate agents, independent financial advisers, accountants and lawyers - prepared to offer their services to crooks.
"Organised criminals are exploiting these professionals," one senior detective investigating property-related crime says.
"It's a small minority, but once criminals find out who they are, they become the one everyone goes to."
Several police forces in the UK are noticing the trend. One English force is increasing the size of its economic crime division by some 20% simply to handle property-related cases.
And at least one ongoing money laundering investigation in the north of England involves tens of millions of pounds washed through multiple, rapidly-repeated property deals.
At the heart of these activities is a process called "flipping".
A property is bought - perhaps with cash, but often with a mortgage, and probably using someone else's identity.
Stolen or bought, false identities are the key to mortgage fraud
It is put back on sale at a price far above its real value - and often bought again by the same people, using a different front identity, known as a "straw buyer".
"You buy up loads, making lots of sales and clocking up £20-30,000 a time - and the more times you do it, the more difficult it is for us to track where the money came from," the detective says.
The false identities often come from identity theft - sometimes from within the offices of finance firms, with added details provided by accountants or other financial professionals.
Alternatively, there are those who willingly - if, perhaps, naively - allow their identities to be abused in this way.
Killing the market
In the US, where the process of prosecuting mortgage fraud is more advanced, there are graphic examples of how this can work.
Recent cases in the southern state of Georgia demonstrate both techniques.
In one, the FBI put away a ring of 21 people - estate agents, valuers, brokers, lawyers - who were paying a university administrator $10,000 a time to provide personal information about students, so their identities could be used to make fake loan applications.
In another, a recent conviction looks set to jail Phillip Hill for much of the rest of his life, after a fraud ring he headed managed to lure dozens of Atlanta's great and good into putting their name to property investments.
Those investments resulted in more than 400 fraudulent applications for mortgages, as properties were flipped at eye-popping prices - and then hundreds of repossessions, which have actually caused property prices in some neighbourhoods to collapse.
Under-regulation of the US's tens of thousands of mortgage brokers has helped relax standards, US authorities say, and created loopholes for fraudsters to exploit.
Some people have very short memories... The early 1990s showed it wasn't a good idea to lend to all and sundry
Alguna gente tiene memoria muy corta… Se demostró a principios de los 90 que no era una buena idea prestar a todos los megapepitos sin excepción.
Última edición por >> 47 <<; 02-may-2007 a las 07:34