Business & Economy

California AG Harris promises to use False Claims Act in mortgage fraud cases

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announces her new Mortgage Fraud Strike Force in Los Angeles Monday. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined her.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris announces her new Mortgage Fraud Strike Force in Los Angeles Monday. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined her.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC

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California Attorney General Kamala Harris Monday promised to go after mortgage fraud scammers with the state's False Claims Act.

The attorney general said that California has a “robust” false claims act – and that her new Mortgage Fraud Strike Force is prepared to use it.

“We are prepared to use it in a way that will look at all those who have made false statements or misled investors of any nature – be they individuals, institutions or municipalities," Harris told a downtown Los Angeles news conference.

"We will work to safeguard the homeowner at every step of the process – from origination of a loan to its securitization," Harris said. "We are setting a high bar for other states and we insist that homeowners be protected, respected and informed."

Harris said the 25 attorneys and investigators assigned to the task force represent “only a beginning” in her effort to address mortgage fraud.

Legal aid attorney Dorothy Herrera Settlidge, who’s represented dozens of homeowners, joined Harris at the announcement. “I am excited about it. How it will turn out, we will see.”

Settlage described extensive mortgage fraud in Southern California, and described what she wanted to see out of the attorney general's task force. “Fast enforcement that we see payoff on. I mean we can identify people now" who are engaging in fraud, Settlage said.

She also said she wants to see more access to the attorney general's office, "so we know how to get the complaint there and some money coming back to our homeowners.”

Last year, there were foreclosure filings against more than half a million homes across California.