PORTLAND — A nationwide crackdown on mortgage fraud — dubbed "Operation Stolen Dreams" — includes 39 defendants and 140 properties in Oregon.
Dwight Holton, U.S. attorney for Oregon, said Thursday the 39 people have been charged, pleaded guilty or have been sentenced since March 1. They include a dozen people involved in the collapse of Desert Sun Development. Banks reportedly lost more than $19 million after lending the Bend company money for commercial and residential projects, some of which were never built.
The FBI in Oregon has received almost 5,000 reports of fraud since the height of the housing market in 2006, Holton said. Many of the investigations remain active and additional federal indictments are expected.
"There are as many schemes as there are con artists," Holton said.
The national probe includes 1,215 criminal defendants in cases that involve more than $2.3 billion in losses. It focused on higher-level players, not the next-door neighbor who lied on a mortgage application.
In Oregon, 15 of the 39 defendants were lending and real estate professionals, including mortgage brokers, real estate agents, a bank loan officer and a certified public accountant. In the Desert Sun case, an inspector lied when he said buildings were going up as scheduled on lots actually vacant.