In the David Jackson article, Crooked appraisers fuel scams: Stolen identities used in mortgage swindles [Chicago Tribune] he reports of a loose network of appraisers who steal the identities of honest appraisers and sign off on millions of dollars of fraudulent appraisals.

It used to be that an appraiser’s identity might have been stolen and used hundreds of times. Now with many of the appraiser databases on the internet and their license numbers in the public domain, its not that hard to assume an identity, especially in a mortgage environment where much less attention is paid to underwriting than in years past.

On top of this, there is virtually no enforcement. This article indicates that the State of Illinois had one appraiser on staff and he recently retired. Most states have no more than a few staff members to handle thousands of complaints.

There are many appraisers have not only their license # on their business card, email signatures and stationary but scanned images of their license on their web site. Take a look! [Google]

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One Response to “Chameleon-like Criminals Are Stealing Appraisers Identities With Little Risk”

  1. John Philip Mason says:

    Forgive me if this comment is similar to the one I made in another post, but I believe it is worth repeating again (and again and …).

    We as appraisers need to consider asking Congress to enact tougher penalties for appraisers who commit fraud. Let’s call them what they are, criminals. We live in a country that fails to take white collar crime seriously. Don Henley said it best when he sang “cause a man with a briefcase can steal more money than any man with a gun”. The true cost of white collar crime is not simply the loss of funds defrauded, but also the added cost time and energy devoted to the creation of additional regulations implemented and monitored by all (individuals, companies, government agencies, etc.) in a feudal attempt to counter criminal efforts. Our nation has dramatically reduced the incidence of violent crimes during the past 10-15 years and it is now time for us to do the same for white collar crime. Imagine how much more prosperity there would be if we reduce the threat of fraud. And it has to start from within our industry. For if we (the honest members of our industry) request such laws, than who would have the right to refuse such a request. Other than dishonest appraisers and other criminals who benefit from their corrupt services, I see no one.