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Florida leads nation in mortgage fraud

Florida is the No. 1 state in the nation for mortgage fraud, according to a new report from LexisNexis Risk Solutions
Florida is the No. 1 state in the nation for mortgage fraud, according to a new report from LexisNexis Risk Solutions Getty Images

Florida leads the nation in mortgage fraud — a dubious distinction the state has held for the past five years, according to a new report from LexisNexis Risk Solutions .

The Alpharetta, Ga.-based data and analytics firm said Florida’s mortgage fraud rate “is more than five times the expected rate of fraud for the state,’’ based on the volume of mortgages originated.

An index of 100 means the level of reported fraud is in line with expectations based on the loan volume; Florida’s index was 529 for 2013.

Jennifer Butts, manager of data insight at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, said the firm keeps a sophisticated data base based on verified reports of fraud from mortgage lenders, insurers and investors.

The types of fraud and misrepresentation run the gamut, including in the appraisal process; in loan applications and documentation, such as fictitious tax returns and W-2 forms; and in verification of deposits and employment, among other areas.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach area led the pack in mortgage fraud among metro areas, accounting for 12.3 percent of all loans investigated for fraud in 2013, the report said. Chicago ranked No. 2, followed by New York, Phoenix, and Orlando.

While Florida had the nation’s highest rate of mortgage fraud, the level of fraud has declined since 2009 when the state had more than seven times the level of reported fraud expected for its mortgage volume.

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