WASHINGTON, June 17 (UPI) -- The FBI said Thursday mortgage fraud in the United States increased 5 percent in 2009 with an estimated $14 billion in phony frauds last year.
The FBI said it received 67,190 reports of mortgage fraud activity during 2009, a year in which foreclosure filings increased 120 percent from 2007 with 2.8 million properties involved.
"Mortgage fraud is an insidious crime that has devastating economic effects on families, communities and the nation," FBI Director Robert Mueller said.
In its annual report on mortgage fraud, the FBI said California led the nation in the number of foreclosure filings while the Las Vegas area had the highest rate of foreclosures, with more than 12 percent of housing units receiving a foreclosure notice.
Among the most common mortgage fraud scams is loan origination fraud and abuse of bankruptcy laws to avoid meeting mortgage obligations.
Loan origination, accounting for 51 percent of mortgage fraud, involves falsifying borrower information, the FBI said.