Sunday, December 14, 2008

Attorney General Targets Unsolicited Faxes; But What About Mortgage Fraud and Other White Collar Crime?

Today the Indianapolis Star reported that Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter was going to announce that his office plans to sue a private company located in Texas that is sending out unsolicited junk faxes.

It is not that junk faxes are not a nuisance. The problem is that there are so many other issues out there that the Attorney General needs to address. The problem of junk faxes is way at the bottom of the list.

What about mortgage fraud? Almost always, a mortgage fraud scheme involves an appraiser. The Attorney General regulates appraisers. When I headed the Title Insurance Division we would give the AG information on bad appraisers involved in mortgage fraud, and the AG would not take action. Likewise, the AG, despite having the authority in federal law and being told to do so by our Indiana General Assembly, will not enforce the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). Real estate agents are regulated by the AG's office. Yet there is no effort made to bring those agents in line when they violate RESPA and Indiana law.

And what about private companies violating the law in their privatization contracts? Tremco violated the state bidding laws and filed a SLAPP lawsuit when Lafayette housewife, Diana Vice, pointed out the legal violation. Yet it took pulling teeth by Ms. Vice to get the AG to finally tackle the issue and provide a legal opinion that Tremco violated the law.

There is absolutely nothing in Indiana law that prevents the Indiana Attorney General from conducting investigations and turning findings over to county prosecutors for prosecution if they so choose. The one area where prosecutors desperately need help in this state is investigating white collar crime. Local county prosecutors do not have the experience, expertise or manpower to investigate white collar crime for the possible filing of charges.

Yes, junk faxes are a problem. But I am a lot more worried about the numerous examples of white collar crime that goes uninvestigated and unprosecuted in this state. Hopefully Attorney General-elect Greg Zoeller will choose to take a more active role in the performance of his duties come January.


Diana Vice said...

You're absolutely right about the priorities of the AG's office, and I hope that Greg Zoeller takes his oath of office seriously. I have hopes that he will. White collar crime is on the rise, and we need to spend our resources addressing it; otherwise, we may well find our state facing an Ill-Annoy-type scandal. We must shine our flashlights under the rocks where slimy politicians are lurking and stop protecting them when they do wrong. Taking the right road isn't always popular, and that's why we need an attorney general at the helm who cares more about doing what's right than he does about his own popularity. Targeting unsolicited faxes is minor compared to the millions of tax dollars spent in an illegal bidding scheme while no one in government seemed to care for the past four years. I firmly believe that if government officials had been doing their jobs properly, I wouldn't have been sued by an out-of-state corporate giant for the purpose of silencing me. Indiana citizens deserved better service, and it shouldn't take a persistent housewife to shame them into doing their jobs.

Citizen Kane said...

Thank you; if one listens to the AG, which I happened to do a few days ago, one would think that they are virtually powerless. While they don't have the powers that I think that they should at least tackle serious investigative work. For example, with Charter Homes and the Windsor Village fraud scheme, anyone (and many of us did) would have easily (and very early) recognized the mortgage fraud. How investigators, including journalists (are there any) could have missed this fraud and allow it to continue for as long as it did. And I am sure that there are many other examples, some smaller and some bigger that I did not accidently encounter. Yes, I wasn't looking for mortgage fraud and I recognized it while scanning a small amount of information on the web and with unrelated information that passed by my desk.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Citizen and Diana,

It amazes me that the incredible resistance the AG puts up to investigating things like mortgage fraud and other issues. They claim it is not part of the AG's job and that the prosecutor's should be doing that. The county prosecutor's do not have the expertise or time to get involved in the complexities of white collar crime. That's the perfect opportunity for the AG to play a role.

There is nothing, I repeat nothing, in the constitution or the code that prevents the AG from conducting white collar crime investigations and turning over findings to county prosecutors to prosecute if they so choose.

Anonymous said...

Carter is an idiot. He goes after window dressing like do-not-call lists and robocalls.

He's just a traffic cop.