Justice Department Corrects Overstated Numbers for Fraud Initiative

Justice Department Corrects Overstated Numbers for Fraud Initiative

08/12/2013 BY: ESTHER CHO

Turns out, when the Justice Department announced triumphs of the Distressed Homeowner Initiative in October 2012, the numbers were largely overstated.

The initiative was launched by the FBI and is the first nationwide effort focusing on fraud schemes targeting struggling homeowners.

In an updated press release Friday, the Justice Department announced the initiative actually resulted in

107 criminal defendants charged in U.S. District Courts in Fiscal Year 2012 (October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012), not the 530 first reported.

The corrected release also stated the cases involved more than 17,185 homeowner victims, while the original numbers reported the cases included more than 73,000 homeowner victims.

Additionally, the total losses the victims suffered was revised down to over $95 million compared to the $1 billion reported last year.

The updated press release included a note explaining the reason for the overstated numbers.  According to the release, the original numbers for the Fiscal Year 2012 also included defendants who were “subject of other prosecutive actions,” as well as defendants who were charged in mortgage fraud cases where the victims did not “fit the narrow definition of distressed homeowner that the initiative targeted.”

After the Justice Department released the figures last year, reporters with Bloomberg found the total included cases that occurred before the initiative began, which prompted a closer look at the numbers.

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