Attack Of The Real Estate Rip-Offs

Punch! Professional Home Design Platinum 8.0 Every boom has a dark side. The merger mania of the 1980s produced insider trading scandals. The ’90s stock bubble was busted for biased investment research. And so it is with real estate, the hottest market of the past eight years. The urge to cash in on rising home values has spawned a growing share of hucksters, schemers and rip-off artists.

So far, it is tough to know exactly how widespread the problem is. Just as conflicts with stock analysts and bankers didn’t come to light until after the Internet bubble popped in 2001 and investors started to get hurt, only now, as the market starts to turn, are complaints over shady [tag]real estate[/tag] practices pouring in. [tag]Internal Revenue Service[/tag] figures show that the agency initiated 235 real estate fraud cases against individuals in 2005, more than double the number it brought in 2001. The IRS expects that figure to remain steady this year. The Feds are taking it seriously–they’ve stepped up penalties to fight mortgage fraud, doubling average jail terms to four years for those convicted, says Andre Martin, a director in the [tag]Criminal Investigations Division[/tag] of the IRS.

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