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Subject: Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering
Date: April 23, 2009
To: Chief Executive Officers and Compliance Officers of All National Banks, Department and Division Heads, All Examining Personnel, and Other Interested Parties
Description: FinCEN Guidance to Financial Institutions on Filing Suspicious Activity Reports regarding Loan Modification/Foreclosure Rescue Scams
On April 6, 2009, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory that provides financial institutions with guidance in identifying and reporting suspicious activity related to loan modification/foreclosure rescue scams.
The advisory instructs banks to use the term "foreclosure rescue scam" within the SAR narrative when completing a SAR that involves a loan modification/foreclosure rescue scam. In addition, banks are instructed to complete the Suspect/Subject Information section of the SAR with as much information as is available for each party suspected of engaging in the fraudulent activity. Banks should not list the homeowner who is the victim of the scam as a suspect unless there is reason to believe that the homeowner was a knowing participant in the scam. Banks should list all available information in the narrative about the homeowner and his or her property to assist law enforcement in investigating potential crimes.
The advisory also provides a list of "red flags," which may be indicative of the presence of a foreclosure rescue scam. Financial institutions should consider these red flags in context with other indicators and facts in order to determine if suspicious or unusual activity has occurred.
Finally, the advisory provides financial institutions with references to Web sites that include additional information on foreclosure rescue scams, general mortgage fraud, and homeowner education programs.
Ann F. Jaedicke