WASHINGTON, March 13 The U.S. Department of
Justice did not make sure that mortgage fraud was prioritized
throughout the agency, despite public statements about the
importance of such cases, a watchdog at the agency said on
The FBI also ranked mortgage fraud as its lowest criminal
threat in its lowest crime category, the DOJ inspector general
The inspector general, Michael Horowitz, also said he found
"significant deficiencies" in the Department of Justice's
ability to accurately report its mortgage fraud efforts.
In recent years federal prosecutors have been accused of not
doing enough to go after the kind of conduct that fueled the
financial crisis, including mortgage fraud.
The FBI received $196 million in funding to investigate
mortgage fraud activities between the 2009 and 2011 fiscal
years, but in 2011 the number of agents investigating such cases
and the number of open investigations decreased, the Office of
the Inspector General said.
In response to a draft of the report, Deputy Attorney
General James Cole said the Department of Justice would aim to
improve mortgage-related data collection and reporting.
He also defended the agency's dedication to combating
mortgage fraud. Cole, in a Feb. 21 letter to Horowitz, pointed
to a spike in mortgage convictions from the 2009 to 2010 fiscal
years, and said the Department of Justice had built up its
mortgage fraud enforcement infrastructure in recent years.