Three House and Senate Democrats on Monday requested a meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss a federal audit that said the Justice Department has exaggerated its prosecution of mortgage fraud and made the crime a low priority.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Md.) and Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) expressed concern about the findings in a letter to Holder on Monday, but the they have not called for a congressional hearing to question him publicly.
The Justice Department’s inspector general released a report last week that said the agency “did not uniformly ensure that mortgage fraud was prioritized at a level commensurate with DOJ’s public statements about the importance of pursuing financial fraud cases in general and mortgage fraud cases in particular.”
Auditors also determined that the number of agents investigating mortgage fraud and the amount of pending cases declined in 2011 despite Congress providing the FBI with $196 million to investigate the crime between 2009 and 2011.
In a joint letter to Holder, the lawmakers said: “This report calls into question the department’s commitment to investigate and prosecute crimes such as predatory lending, loan-modification scams and abusive mortgage servicing practices,” the letter said.
Mortgage fraud contributed to the 2008 financial collapse, with brokers and lenders falsifying documents while homebuyers embellished their incomes and hid their debt. The schemes have since shifted to foreclosure-rescue and loan-modification scams, as well as other tactics that victimize consumers.
Warren served as chair of the Congressional Oversight Program that oversaw the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), also known as the bank bailout. Cummings is the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Waters is the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee.
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