Report Illustrates Danger of Localized Mortgage Fraud Risks Spreading

Chicago metro moves from “moderate” to “very high risk” in less than a year

AGOURA HILLS, CA, February 17, 2011 Interthinx has released its quarterly Mortgage Fraud Risk Report, covering data collected in the fourth quarter of 2010. The report, which tracks overall and type-specific mortgage fraud risk, provides an in-depth analysis of fraud risk from specific ZIP codes at state and national levels.   

According to the most recent data available, previously localized risks in one or more ZIP codes pose a danger of spreading throughout a metropolitan area. The fourth-quarter report indicates that fraud risk in Chicago’s ZIP code 60621, which has been the riskiest ZIP code in the United States for three consecutive quarters, may have driven risk higher for the entire city. Chicago’s overall risk has increased dramatically since second-quarter 2010, from “moderate” to “very high risk” in the fourth quarter; and Illinois’ quarter-on-quarter jump of 26 index points was the largest nationally. This data suggests that “very high” fraud risk at the ZIP code level can, in a short period of time, spread and elevate the overall risk of much larger geographies.

Analysts also noted that short and REO (real estate owned) sales constitute a significant share of all sales in the majority of the highest-risk MSAs (metropolitan statistical areas) in the Occupancy and Property Valuation Fraud Risk indices, which both rose by more than 25 percent over the last year. Mortgage fraud risk is acute in short-sale transactions in part because servicers and loss mitigation departments do not typically screen for fraud.

“With employment/income and identity fraud risk up by more than 25 percent in 2010, lenders need to be more vigilant about using fraud detection systems during refinancings, modifications, and purchase transactions that involve the resale of distressed properties,” said Kevin Coop, president of Interthinx. “In addition, short sales represent an acute risk to lenders. The large number of distressed borrowers, the lack of risk controls, and government pressure to avoid foreclosures are producing an environment that in some ways resembles the mortgage market of 2005 to 2006. Lenders and servicers who do not employ robust risk controls and analysis at every stage of the mortgage life cycle face significant financial losses.”

The Mortgage Fraud Risk Report is an Interthinx information product created by an internal team of fraud experts. The report was prepared with input from Constance Wilson, Ann Fulmer, Shane De Zilwa, and the Interthinx analytics team. This is the seventh time Interthinx has released its quarterly report, which is providing deeper insight into current fraud trends through analysis of the more than 12 million loan applications amassed from the industry’s use of the Interthinx FraudGUARD® loan-level fraud detection tool.

About Interthinx
Interthinx, a Verisk Analytics subsidiary, is a leading national provider of comprehensive risk mitigation solutions focusing on mortgage fraud, collateral risk and valuation, regulatory compliance, forensic loan audit services, loss mitigation, and loss forecasting. With more than 20 years of experience in customizable risk evaluation technology, Interthinx offers proven and effective predictive analytics to the residential mortgage industry through its experience with millions of loan applications and fraud incident data from thousands of monthly loan reviews. Throughout the mortgage life cycle, the Interthinx suite of services can increase the value of client portfolios with its comprehensive and holistic approach to loan quality and compliance. Winner of multiple awards for technology, Interthinx helps clients reduce risk, increase operational efficiencies, satisfy regulator demands, manage data verification, remain compliant, and mitigate loan buybacks. The Interthinx quarterly Mortgage Fraud Risk Report is a standard for the financial services industry. For more information, visit www.interthinx.com or call 1-800-333-4510.

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Rick Grant
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rick.grant@rga-pr.com