Interthinx released its quarterly Mortgage Fraud Risk Report covering data collected in the first quarter of 2012. According to the most recent analysis, the national Mortgage Fraud Risk Index decreased by 4.3 percent from last quarter and 3.1 percent from one year ago, dropping below the 140 mark for the first time since the second quarter of 2009. At the same time, employment and income fraud risk is on the rise, up 5 percent from fourth-quarter 2011, up 18 percent over last year and up by 37 percent over the past two years. Company analysts believe the continued increase is due to misrepresentation of borrower data to meet debt-to-income thresholds required by lenders.
Other results uncovered in the most recent report include:
• Nevada regained the mantle of “Riskiest State,” after being displaced by Arizona in fourth-quarter 2011.
• Florida was the third riskiest state after Nevada and Arizona. It contains the two riskiest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) — Cape Coral and Miami — and half of the top ten riskiest ZIP codes in the nation.
• California, a historically high-risk state, experienced a significant decline, with its index value falling from 192 last quarter to 173 this quarter. The decrease is most apparent in the state’s Central Valley MSAs and is epitomized by Stockton, which slipped to seventh in the list of riskiest MSAs after occupying first place for the past three quarters.
• The New York tri-state area (defined as the New York City metropolitan area along with the Connecticut metro areas of Bridgeport and New Haven and the New Jersey metro areas of Atlantic City and Ocean City), highlighted last quarter because of a significant increase in risk, saw additional increases in risk this quarter. In particular, New Jersey surpassed California as the fourth riskiest state — its highest rank since the inception of this report. And New York moved into tenth place — the first time it has entered the top ten.
• As already-low mortgage rates have fallen further to new historical lows, refinancing activity has surged. The resulting change in the composition of loan applications is at least partly responsible for many of the trends seen over the last year.