By Kori Eskridge, Fall 2014 Student Intern
The number of cases of financial fraud is on the rise, with more and more cases being reported and investigated every day. Much of this is due to the housing and financial crisis in the United States over the past few years. In response to growing fears over financial stability and recovery, President Obama established the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force in November 2009. According to www.stopfraud.gov, the mission of the task force is to “hold accountable those who helped bring about the last financial crisis as well as those who would attempt to take advantage of the efforts at economic recovery.”
The Task Force is a broad coalition of federal agencies, U.S. Attorney’s Offices and state and local partners. It is led by the Attorney General and is led by a steering committee consisting of leaders from various industries that make up ten specific focus groups:
- Consumer Protection
- Residential Mortgage-backed Securities
- Training and Information Sharing
- Victims’ Rights
- Mortgage Fraud
- Securities and Commodities Fraud
- Recovery Act, Procurement, and Grant Fraud
- Rescue Fraud
- Oil and Gas Price Fraud
The Task Force is dedicated to providing information to consumers and investors to help prevent financial crimes as well as investigated and prosecuting those who commit financial fraud. In 2010, the FBI, HUD and the Task Force worked together on “Operation Stolen Dreams” targeting mortgage fraudsters nationwide. The effort resulted in more 450 arrests and almost 200 civil actions and the recovery of more than $147 million. Additionally, in 2011, the Task Force worked with the FBI to launch the Distressed Homeowner Initiative, which resulted in criminal charges against 107 defendants in cases involving more than 17,185 homeowner victims and losses of more than $95 million.
The Task Force continues to work with other agencies and departments to help curb financial fraud from occurring.