FBI says targets major insiders in mortgage probe

1/04/2008 - 18:33

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The FBI is targeting major corporate insiders and criminal groups in its investigation of fraud in the mortgage lending industry, agency chief Robert Mueller said on Tuesday.

"We continue to work to identify large-scale industry insiders and criminal enterprises engaged in systemic economic fraud," Mueller told a House of Representatives Appropriations subcommittee hearing, in discussing the FBI's white-collar crime efforts against mortgage fraud.

He did not name any specific targets, but agency officials have previously said corporate employees ranging from senior executives to lower ranks were likely targets in the investigation. The agency has said it was investigating 17 companies in mortgage cases, and there are more 1,300 total pending mortgage fraud investigations.

There have not been any signs of that traditional organized crime groups were involved in mortgage fraud, officials have said.

The collapse of the U.S. housing finance industry which has spread widely through the global financial markets and fueled growing allegations of fraud.

The FBI on Monday unveiled a new Web site (www.fbi.gov/hq/mortgage_fraud.htm) devoted to mortgage fraud statistics. It is intended to meet a strong public demand for information about the problem, a spokesman said.

(Reporting by Randall Mikkelsen, editing by Lori Santos)

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