WASHINGTON (12/15/10)--The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has reported that suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed during the first six months of 2010 show that reported cases of mortgage loan fraud increased by 7% during that time period. Around half of all SARs were filed by borrowers. FinCEN reported a total of 35,135 mortgage fraud-related SARs during the first half of 2010, and noted that the increase “can be attributed to increased attention to older loans spurred by repurchase demands.” FinCEN Director James Freis in a release said that “SARs are one of the most important sources of lead information for mortgage fraud investigations available to law enforcement.” The FinCEN reports, which cover the first and second quarters of 2010, also noted increases in bankruptcy references in SARs. A total of 7% of mortgage fraud-related SARs filed in 2010 mentioned bankruptcy, while 1% of SARs filed in 2006 and 2007 mentioned bankruptcy. References to “short sale(s)” and “broker price opinion(s)” appeared 827 times and 41 times, respectively, in SARs filed during the first quarter of 2010. FinCEN said that these terms can relate to a financial crime known as “flopping,” a crime in which foreclosed properties are sold at artificially low prices to nonexistent buyers. These false buyers will then sell these properties at a higher price and keep the profit, FinCEN said. The FinCEN reports also break down SAR filings by metropolitan area and county. For the full FinCEN reports, use the resource links.