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For immediate release Thursday, June 17, 2010.
Contact Bob Brammer 515-281-6699. Rbrammer@ag.state.ia.us

“Operation Stolen Dreams”

State-Federal Financial Fraud Task Force tackles mortgage fraud.
Iowa A.G. Tom Miller is a leader of the states in team effort with Feds.

The Federal/State Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force announced early results Thursday of “Operation Stolen Dreams,” the Task Force’s effort to combat mortgage fraud.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and others at a Washington news conference said the Operation Stolen Dreams “sweep” involved 1,215 criminal defendants nationwide who allegedly are responsible for more than $2.3 billion in losses. The operation also has resulted in 191 civil enforcement actions which have resulted in the recovery of more than $147 million, they said.

Iowa Assistant Attorney General Patrick Madigan represented Attorney General Tom Miller at the news conference at the U.S. Dept. of Justice. Miller is a leader of the State Attorneys General in the Mortgage Fraud Working Group, a key part of the broader Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

Miller’s office is working on mortgage fraud cases in Iowa it expects to announce in the future. Mortgage fraud was one of the factors that helped trigger the nation’s financial crisis, and it can harm home-owner/borrowers, financial institutions, taxpayers, and the overall economy. Miller led earlier multi-state civil cases brought against Household Finance and Ameriquest.

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More on “mortgage rescue scams”:

Mortgage “rescue scams” and loan-modification scams are one focus that consumers should be alert to now, Miller said. “Rescue” schemes ask homeowners to pay hundreds of dollars up-front for so-called assistance or rescue from foreclosure, but scammers just take the money and do little or nothing to help. “Victims are just put in a deeper financial hole,” he said.

“It is important to get help if you are at risk of foreclosure,” Miller said, “but look out for and avoid schemes that only take your money do nothing. Get help you can trust by calling the Iowa Mortgage Help Hotline at 877-622-4866,” Miller advised.

Consumers who have been cheated by a “rescue scam” or any other mortgage scheme should contact the Iowa Attorney General’s Office at 888-777-4590 toll-free, or go to www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov (click on “protecting consumers” to file a complaint.)

For more on “mortgage rescue scams,” consumers should go to www.state.ia.us/government/ag/consumer_advisories/credit_finance/Foreclosure_Scam_rescue.html For more on the Mortgage Help Hotline, go to: www.state.ia.us/government/ag/consumer_advisories/credit_finance/Mortgage_hotline.html .

More background on the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force:

The Federal/state/local Task Force was created last November especially to hold accountable those who helped bring about the recent financial crisis and to prevent another crisis from happening. It’s a broad effort working on financial fraud ranging from tax fraud and Ponzi schemes, to credit card fraud and predatory lending.

One key sub-group of the broader Task Force is the Mortgage Fraud Working Group, and Attorney General Miller of Iowa is a key leader of state participation in that Group. (He is in Seattle at a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General so could not be at the news conference at U.S. Justice Thursday in Washington.) Thursday’s news conference focused on the mortgage fraud cases of the overall Task Force. .  [Go to Case Examples of cases conducted under Operation Stolen Dreams.]

Go to www.stopfraud.gov for more information about the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

Consumers may go to http://www.stopfraud.gov/protect-mortgage.html for good tips and information on avoiding and preventing mortgage fraud of various kinds.

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