Florence, SC - SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) - A nationwide mortgage fraud sweep organized by President Barack Obama is being called the largest of its kind, and now eight agencies are teaming up to directly target the problem in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee.
U.S. Attorney William Nettles and representatives from the eight agencies gathered Thursday at Francis Marion University to outline exactly how they'll be putting an end to mortgage fraud across the state. While the problem is widespread, officials say much of their attention will be focused on the Grand Strand.
"We have found a lot of fraud in Myrtle Beach," Nettles stated. "Because we've found a lot of fraud there, we are going to continue to be there. We're going to have a presence in Myrtle Beach."
Officials say they have identified several cases of the particular type of fraud in Myrtle Beach. The area has been tabbed as "vulnerable" for those trying to cheat the system for a deal.
Nettles says the potential for mortgage fraud in Myrtle Beach has been fueled by rising home prices, creating what he calls "fertile ground" for the crime. The repercussions of mortgage fraud directly impact small and large communities alike, through defaulted properties and lower property values.
The "Operation Stolen Dreams" sweep was initiated by Obama and the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The goal of the operation, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, is to lead an "aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes."
Since the inception of the program on March 1, Operation Stolen Dreams has netted 1,215 national criminal defendants, resulting in 485 arrests that are responsible for an alleged $2.3 billion in losses.
Operation Stolen Dreams targets mortgage defrauders throughout the U.S. and is known as the largest collective effort to put a stop to mortgage fraud.
Currently, a case of mortgage fraud is being prosecuted in Rock Hill by Nettles and the U.S. Attorney's Office.