St. Louis Public Radio News
5:38 pm
Thu September 17, 2009

Mortgage fraud targeted by state Attorneys General

Jefferson City, MO – Attorneys General from eight states, including Missouri's Chris Koster and Illinois' Lisa Madigan, discussed combating mortgage fraud today in Washington, DC, with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and other federal officials.

Koster says he and his colleagues began preparations for a joint federal-state effort against fraud in the areas of mortgage refinancing and debt settlement.

"A lot of companies are coming in, demanding upfront fees...$2,000-3,000 a pop...people who are in distressed financial conditions give the money over and then get nothing for their money...they're better off never dealing with these kinds of businesses to begin with," Koster said.

Though the strategies are still being worked out, Koster says he hopes they'll include a federal ban on upfront fees, similar to the ban in Missouri.

"We're trying to get the federal government, specifically the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to climb on board with a rule or law that would affect the entire country the same way," Koster said.

Mortgage fraud in Missouri is a civil action, with the punishment being whatever financial damages a judge or jury may levy against a violator.

Koster says another goal of today's meeting is to improve communication between state Attorneys General and federal law enforcement officers.