WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and other members of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force announced the results on Tuesday of a nationwide effort to stop fraud schemes targeting suffering homeowners.

Joining Holder in the announcement were Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz, FBI Associate Deputy Director Kevin Perkins and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. The FBI-launched initiative led to 530 criminal defendants charged in 285 federal criminal indictments or information that involved more than 73,000 homeowner victims and total losses estimated at more than $1 billion.

"These comprehensive efforts represent an historic, government-wide commitment to eradicating mortgage fraud and related offenses," Holder said. "The success of the Distressed Homeowner Initiative, and the developments we announce today, underscore our determination to pursue these and other financial fraud criminals around the country."

Between Oct. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30, 2012, the initiative focused on fraud that targeted homeowners. The initiative also targeted perpetrators of loan modification schemes, which obtain advance fees from homeowners after falsely promising the negotiation of more favorable rates.

The Justice Department's U.S. Trustee Program, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission filed 110 federal civil actions against 153 defendants in cases involving distressed homeowners throughout the country. State attorneys general also filed criminal cases against 51 defendants and at least 104 civil enforcement actions against 125 defendants.

The Mortgage Fraud Working Group of President Obama's interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force was put together to lead a proactive, coordinated and aggressive effort to look into and prosecute financial crimes. Holder is the chairperson for the task force.

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