WASHINGTON (5/2/08)—Suspicious activity reporting by credit unions and banks has enabled the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to identify a new money laundering trend involving the residential real estate industry. A recent FinCEN study has confirmed an increase in the number of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) that indicate suspected money laundering in the industry which tracks closely with the past expansion of the real estate market, especially in the 2004-2005 period. FinCEN noted in a release that its previous studies have found similar trends in mortgage lending where criminals seek to profit by committing mortgage fraud. In contrast, FinCEN said, the new trend involves those who seek to launder money through residential real estate and generally intend to make timely payments. They strive to make their transactions appear as unremarkable as possible in order to disguise the source of their funds Nichole Seabron, federal compliance counsel for the Credit Union National Association, said Thursday that the FinCEN's report shows that U.S. financial institutions have been able to identify possible instances of money laundering through residential real estate. The report, she added, is intended to help raise awareness of this vulnerability and to assist credit unions, banks and thrifts to better recognize the risks involved in this activity.