Thursday, September 27, 2012

‘Huge’ Number of Lawyers Accused In Civil and Criminal Mortgage-Related Fraud Cases

‘Huge’ Number of Lawyers Accused In Civil and Criminal Mortgage-Related Fraud Cases
ABA Journal Law News Now
By Martha Neil
September 20, 2012

There is a disturbing trend among the proliferation of mortgage-fraud prosecutions and civil cases that followed the meltdown of the real estate market in recent years.

Many of the defendants are lawyers, reports the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

Joseph Dunn, who serves as executive director of the State Bar of California, calls the involvement of lawyers in perpetrating mortgage-related scams a "huge" problem. Since 2009, the group has gotten over 11,000 mortgage-related complaints about attorneys. Over 100 California lawyers have been disciplined and another 200 or so are either facing legal ethics charges or being investigated.

Senior counsel Yolanda McGill of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in Washington, D.C., says a national database of 25,000 complaints about suspected mortgage-related fraud includes more than 6,000 complaints against attorneys and law firms.

An attorney is a key participant in a mortgage scheme, says Craig Howland, chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's financial institutions fraud unit. That's because being able to point to a lawyer, who is sworn to uphold the law, "adds legitimacy" to the scam and thus can help ensnare potential victims. Howland says there are a number of pending FBI probes concerning lawyers. Read more here

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