Senate gives prosecutors teeth in chomping out mortgage fraud

LANSING, Mich.— Prosecuting attorneys will have the tools they need to help put a stop to mortgage fraud in Michigan after legislation approved by the state Senate today was sent to the governor to be signed into law.

“Michigan homeowners have it bad enough keeping up with their mortgage payments and avoiding foreclosure in this economy,” said Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, who voted for the measures. “The last thing they need are predators committing mortgage fraud, costing our hardworking families and taxpayers millions of dollars every year. Mortgage fraud is a grave and growing danger and these reforms will help put a stop to it and protect homeowners.”

The package creates a new crime of residential mortgage fraud and authorizes new sentencing guidelines and increased penalties for crimes such as forging deeds. Mortgage fraud will become a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. The maximum penalty for violating the notary public law will also increase, from one year imprisonment to four.

The reforms are supported by Attorney General Bill Schuette, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and industry groups, including the Michigan Bankers Association, Michigan Credit Union League, and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.

Senate Bills 43 and 249 through 252 are headed to the governor, who is expected to sign them into law.