The District's risk of mortgage fraud is among the highest in the country, according to recent analysis from CoreLogic.
D.C. ranked sixth, Maryland was 15th and Virginia was 17th at the end of last year, according to Frank McKenna, vice president of fraud strategy at CoreLogic, a California business analytics company.
Still, the area's rankings have improved from several years ago. D.C., Maryland and Virginia were ranked first, third and sixth in fraud risk, respectively, at the peak of the housing bubble in the second quarter of 2007, according to CoreLogic's recently released "2010 Mortgage Fraud Trends Report."
Although mortgage fraud is increasing nationally, fraud risk levels are falling, the report said. The discrepancy has occurred because it takes about three years for a mortgage fraud to be recognized, and therefore the industry is still feeling the effects of fraud that originated several years ago, it said.
Another reason is that the recognition of fraud as a problem is increasing, McKenna said.
"But with an estimated $14 billion in fraud losses experienced in 2009 alone, fraud is still a major issue for the mortgage industry," said Tim Grace, senior vice president of Fraud Analytics at CoreLogic. "While the industry has done good work there is evidence that fraud patterns are changing and becoming increasingly better hidden."
In 2009, Maryland established the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Task Force to address the issue.
"I believe that we are making an impact," said Rod Rosenstein, U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland. "Obviously we know that there are cons still out there trying to take advantage of homeowners and mortgage lenders."
Maryland was ranked sixth and Virginia 10th in mortgage fraud last year, according to a report released in April by the Mortgage Asset Research Institute.
"Borrowers are often at a disadvantage because they don't understand all the details of their transactions," Rosenstein said.
"One thing to keep in mind is there's a lag time between the fraud and [the] enforcement," he added. "Our caseload is still growing."