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Marc Giauque reportingTwo Utahns are now accused of mortgage fraud schemes, as part of nationwide crackdown.
The cases are a part of a Department of Justice and FBI national takedown of mortgage fraud schemes. More than 400 defendants have been charged as a part of the initiative which resulted in 144 mortgage fraud cases.
Jerry C. Huff, of Hurricane, and Bryan D. Conrad, of Salt Lake City, are charged in separate, unrelated indictments returned by a federal grand jury last week.
Huff faces charges of wire fraud, money laundering and failure to file a federal tax return. Prosecutors claim he made a number of false representations to get a $250,000 second mortgage on his home in Moab.
Conrad is charged with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. He's accused of using false identities to help obtain a mortgage loan.
In a press release, U.S. Attorney Brett L. Tolman was quoted as saying, "Working with our local, state, and federal partners on the Utah Mortgage Fraud Task Force, we will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud cases in Utah. Mortgage fraud is a continuing problem in Utah, but today we send a strong, clear message to those who are engaging in this criminal conduct: We are going to catch you and hold you accountable for the crimes you are perpetrating in Utah communities."
According to FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Fuhrman, "These two indictments announced today are reflective of the significant mortgage fraud problem which exists in Utah today. The FBI has stepped up its efforts to combat mortgage fraud throughout the United States, and the State of Utah is no exception. Any number of fraudulent schemes involving the mortgage industry exist, but at their heart they contain some type of material misstatement, misrepresentation, or factual omission utilized in order to fund, purchase, or insure a loan. The Utah Mortgage Fraud Task Force will continue to work these cases and devote the necessary resources to address and eradicate this significant problem which has had such a major impact on the American economy."
The FBI says it is currently investigating 31 cases in Utah. It says the two recently indicted men reflect a pattern they've seen all over the country of mortgage fraud that ultimately impacts everyone.
The FBI estimated the losses to homeowners nationwide and other borrowers who were victims in the schemes at more than $1 billion.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report. Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)