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Jamaica tops state in number of fraudulent mortgages: Study

A new study set to be released later this month ranks Jamaica as the state leader in the number of fraudulent mortgages, but one nonprofit group in the area has vowed to fight the trend with new awarded resources.

First America Core Logic, a California-based data collection and analysis company, released new information on the nation’s foreclosure crisis last month and found that the number of fraudulent loans given to first-time homeowners has not declined over the last few years despite reform action by the government.

The summary of the group’s report, slated to be released April 30, said the Jamaica neighborhood ´╗┐led New York state in the number of such mortgages and is one of the top areas in the nation with four times more fraudulent mortgages than the national average.

Cathy Minkins, executive director of the nonprofit mortgage help group Neighborhood Housing Service of Jamaica, said the statistics are disturbing since the state has spent millions of dollars to combat fraudulent loans over the last two years.

“We know we are in trouble here. We thought we would see a decline, but it is going from bad to worse,” she said.

Minkins noted there are scam artists out there posing as professionals who are offering housing help and ultimately putting homeowners in deeper financial debt. She added that her office has received a lot of phone calls from clients who have been cheated out of their homes by a variety of sources, including their own relatives.

“Some of the elderly are being mistreated by family members who are taking the money from them,” she said.

But relief may be on the way for these problems, according to the executive director.

Neighborhood Housing was awarded $645,350 by the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal last week to combat foreclosure in southeast Queens, which leads the state in the number of homes lost. The money will be used by the organization to provide education, financial counseling and legal representation to clients who approach them for help, according to Minkins.

She said she will be partnering with other Queens non profits, including the Queens Community House, MYF Legal Services and Centro Hispano Cuzcatlan and aiming to serve more than 1,500 homeowners this year with the additional funding.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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