Over the last few years, the real-estate fraud unit of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office has seen a 40-percent year-over-year increase in residents claiming to be fraud victims.
The unit’s most-recent buzz: foreclosure fraud investigations.
Lately, investigators are dealing with foreclosed homeowners saying they were lured by schemers who promised foreclosure relief for a price tag of $2,000, $3,000 or even more.
“Our attention is directed there because the times demand it,” said Larry Roberts, lead deputy district attorney. “But we’re easily distracted by the overwhelming amount of (other) cases coming in over the last year.”
From July 2007 to July 2008, the unit received almost 460 formal complaints from residents across the county claiming they were duped by mortgage fraud or foreclosure fraud schemes.
For the small 10-person division, the task is daunting, especially when the unit’s case load grows larger every month.
It usually takes three to six months before investigators can determine whether a complaint can be turned into a case.
“We have 139 cases sitting here, waiting to be investigated,” he said. “It continues to increase.”