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California Mortgage Fraud Case Nets 11 Indictments

Federal agents arrested 10 defendants who worked at a Rancho Cucamonga, California-based business accused of offering false loan modification programs to homeowners, SIGTARP announced Wednesday. Those taken into custody are among 11 defendants named in a federal indictment following a joint investigation by SIGTARP, the FBI, IRS├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ó Criminal Investigations division, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and FHFA.

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Eminent Domain Gripe Arrives in Nation’s Capitol

Rep. John Campbell introduced to Congress a piece of legislation designed to keep local governments from using eminent domain to seize homes with underwater mortgages. Titled ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£The Defending American Taxpayers from Abusive Government Takings Act,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø the bill would prohibit Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, and the Veterans Administration from purchasing or guaranteeing loans originating in counties where a municipality has seized a mortgage loan through eminent domain in the last decade.

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DOJ, B of A Resolve Disability Discrimination Suit

The Justice Department announced Thursday that it has reached a settlement with Bank of America over allegations of loan discrimination against disability income recipients. The bank was accused of violating the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by asking disabled mortgage loan applicants to provide letters from their doctors to document the income they received from Social Security Disability Insurance. Some applicants were asked to provide more detailed medical information to document their income.

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Freddie Mac to Expand Mortgage Repurchase Claims

On the heels of the Federal Housing Finance Agency├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós announcement of its revised representation and warranty guidelines comes news that Freddie Mac will be increasing its repurchase claims in the near future. The revised rep and warranty guidelines were designed to provide more clarity in the market, but in the meantime, the FHFA Office of Inspector General reports Freddie Mac will increase repurchase requests to between $0.8 billion and $1.2 billion this year and between $2.2 billion and $3.4 billion overall.

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Valuation Vision Director Joins Five Star Panelists to Talk Appraisals

Before the Five Star Conference went into full swing last week, one firm, Valuation Vision, announced the participation of one of its members at one of the industry event├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós noteworthy academic courses. The Oceanside, California-based valuation products company, a subsidiary of The Kirchmeyer Group, revealed that Bill Mohler, director of product development, would join other distinguished panelists in the class titled ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£Opposing Values: BPO vs. Appraisals vs. Desktops vs. AVMs.├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø

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Cordray Addresses Congressional Praise, Concerns

Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, met with general praise and a few pointed concerns Thursday when he addressed the Senate Banking Committee when he presented the agency├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós semi-annual report. While most members of the committee praised the Bureau├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós progress thus far, a few questioned the extent of its authority and the implications of some of its actions. He said the agency has received 72,297 consumer complaints thus far, noting that complaints have ramped up over the past year.

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FOMC Adopts Somewhat Familiar Stimulus Plan

Fed

The Federal Open Market Committee announced Thursday a new plan to stimulate a moribund economy continuing two earlier plans which at best stopped the economy from contracting. The FOMC said it would keep the federal funds rate near zero into mid-2015, six months longer than it had said previously. Separately, later in the day, the Fed issued its projections for the economy out to 2015, a more optimistic outlook than previous forecasts. The Fed painted a grim picture of the economy.

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ICBA Makes Case for Community Bank Exemptions Under CFPB

Community banks should be exempt from pending regulations on high-cost mortgages since they were not responsible for the mortgage crises, the Independent Community Bankers of America stated in a release. In July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced it was proposing rules for high-cost mortgages, which would be determined based on interest rates, points and fees, or prepayment penalties. The proposals for high-cost mortgages include a ban on prepayment penalties and a general ban on balloon payments. Late fees would be capped.

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Isaac Pushes Up First-Time Unemployment Claims

First time claims for unemployment jumped 15,000 to 382,000 for the week ended September 8, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Several states reported increases in initial claims, as a result of Tropical Storm Isaac, which increased the total by about 9,000. Several states "reported increases in initial claims, "as a result of Tropical Storm Isaac," which increased the total by about 9,000. Economists had predicted a smaller increase, to 370,000.

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Freddie: Don’t Expect Fuel Prices to Kill Recovery

Freddie

While Americans may be feeling pain at the pumps, Freddie Mac doesn├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ót believe the recent increase in gas prices will have a huge impact on the economy. In the GSE├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós most recent U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook, Freddie Mac VP and chief economist Frank Nothaft looked at energy costs and their potential effects on the economic recovery. The U.S. Department of Energy reported that gas prices averaged $3.84 per gallon on September 3, up about $0.50 over the past two months.

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