Senate passes Nofs bill to combat mortgage fraud

LANSING –- Legislation sponsored by Sen. Mike Nofs was approved Tuesday by the Michigan Senate as part of a package to help combat mortgage fraud and punish offenders.

“Michigan families deserve protection against mortgage fraud, which unfortunately still devastates innocent Michigan families every year,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “This crime robs residents of the American dream, undermines the faith in our financial system and drives down property values. My bill, and this entire package, will help protect consumers from mortgage fraud and give law enforcement officials the tools necessary to investigate, prosecute and punish mortgage fraud offenders.”

Nofs’ measure, Senate Bill 251, would extend the statute of limitations for bringing an indictment for mortgage fraud from 6 to 10 years.

“This is about giving fairness to homeowners and just punishment for offenders,” said Nofs, vice chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. “Mortgage fraud can take a long time to come to light. When the victim discovers and reports the crime, it is often too late to prosecute. By expanding the timeframe, we solve this problem and give officials a longer investigation period.

The nine-bill package would classify mortgage fraud as a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. It includes reforms to increase the penalties for fraudulent activities such as counterfeiting or forging real estate deeds and violating the notary public law.

Senate Bills 43, 44 and 249-253 have been sent to the House for further consideration. Two other bills, House Bills 4462 and 4478, pertaining to forging deeds, are currently pending before the House Judiciary Committee.