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Rachel Dollars’ Two Cents

As featured in AppraisalBuzz.com:

There are so many outlets for specific information in the world today. The internet hosts copious amounts of websites that give each user exactly what they want. Today we want to shine a little spotlight on an interesting and useful blog that’s been giving readers exactly what they want since 2004. Mortgage Fraud Blog is receiving some buzz from the Experts Institute and here at Appraisal Buzz we aren’t shy about giving kudos. Today, we talk with attorney and author of Mortgage Fraud Blog on her recent nomination.

Buzz: Tell us about your blog, the Mortgage Fraud Blog?

Rachel: Mortgage Fraud Blog is a website about, well, Mortgage Fraud. It isn’t really a “blog” as the term is commonly used, it is a news site.  But, it began on a blogging platform in 2004 – hence the name.

When I started handling mortgage fraud cases as an attorney, I was surprised by the fact that I would often be referred cases involving loans that were originated after the participants had been indicted on fraud charges. It occurred to me that, while mortgage origination is a national activity, mortgage fraud news stories are generally published locally.  The loan underwriter is often located in a jurisdiction far from the real property that will be used as a security for a loan and doesn’t have access to or interest in the news from that locality. Those perpetrating mortgage fraud seem to be aware of this fact.

Mortgage Fraud Blog was intended to bring all of that local news to a single location where underwriters and other mortgage professionals would be able to access industry specific news about cases pending across the United States and, hopefully, to limit the ability of schemes that continue to operate post-indictment.  Mortgage Fraud Blog tracks criminal and civil mortgage fraud cases across the United States. We put all the information into one convenient place where it can be accessed by interested mortgage professionals. I also believe it is important that those working in the industry, be it loan originators, processors, underwriters, title professionals or appraisers, understand how the emerging fraud schemes work so that they can protect themselves from becoming unwitting accomplices.

Buzz: What made you decide to get into blogging?

Rachel: I didn’t really decide to “get into blogging.” I wanted to increase awareness of fraud and create a one-stop shop for information. While this idea was taking shape, a friend gave me an article on blogging. Blogging was a relatively new medium in 2004. There weren’t a lot of blogs and, at the time, the current ‘opinion page’ and ‘life diary’ concepts weren’t firmly associated with blogging. I did some research and discovered that the blogging platforms would allow me to quickly and easily convert my idea into a live website. I registered the name and started posting articles. It quickly became a widely-used industry resource.

Buzz: What are some cases you’ve been seeing in the appraisal industry?

Rachel: The most common criminal cases we see involve unlicensed appraisers or appraiser identity theft. As far as cases against licensed appraisers, indictments are generally based upon misrepresentation of objective details such as the sales price or date of last sale of comparables. Most appraisers that face criminal charges are not recipients of the scheme profits and only receive their standard appraisal fees. I find that law enforcement and prosecutors don’t always understand appraisal methodology and find it challenging to differentiate incompetence from intent in appraisal. But, as I am sure your readers would agree, there are many ways to manipulate an appraised value that fall short of falsifying an objective fact.

Buzz: Tell us a little about the award your blog has been nominated for.

Rachel: The Expert Institute solicited nominations for best legal blogs. They received over 2000 nominations and the sites with the most nominations were selected to compete. It is a user vote based award competition. For me, it is an opportunity to get the word out about the blog. The industry has changed a lot since I started the blog in 2004. As a result of the financial crisis, many professionals left the industry. As the market improves, new professionals and companies are entering – many of whom are not aware of the service and information we provide.  At the same time, fraud is on the upswing. I want to raise awareness in order to keep institutions and professionals from being victimized.

Buzz: For the Appraisal Buzz readers who may not be familiar with your blog yet, what makes Mortgage Fraud Blog stand out?

Rachel: The site carries nationwide news on mortgage fraud cases. The site has a single focus and we don’t go off topic. We post every business day and have been doing so for over a decade. The website is an educational resource as well as a business tool. Joan Trice jokingly refers to the site as the “perp walk.” I often get emails from industry players who run across the names of former associates or are glad to see bad players, with whom they had personal experience, brought to account.

Buzz: Rachel thank you so much for speaking with us today, congratulations on your nomination and, good luck!
Authored by Rachel Dollar