Georgia is seeing an uptick in the number of citizens being arrested for housing fraud. Dougherty County appears to be the most affected. Georgia’s Bureau of Investigation (GBI) has partnered with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to start ‘Operation Clean House.’ Investigators are targeting 80 suspects they claim lied and made misrepresentations about their situations in order to attain government assistance.
18 of the 80 suspects maintain residence in Dougherty County, which is twice as many suspects as any other county in Georgia. These suspects are being passionately pursued by law enforcement because there is a waiting list 400 people long to receive one of the limited number of Section 8 vouchers available in Georgia. HUD claims 80 people attained government affordable housing funds through fraudulent means.
Through the ‘Operation Clean House’ initiative, GBI and local Sherriff’s deputies recently apprehended 54 of the 80 mortgage fraud suspects in 12 southwest Georgia counties, which were Colquitt, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Lee, Lowndes, Miller, Mitchell, Randolph, Seminole, Terrell, and Thomas. Some suspects are proving hard to track, as they hold multiple addresses.
General allegations claim mortgage fraud. More specifically, charges allege that the suspects obtained mortgages from HUD while still obtaining additional, unreported income. More than $1.1 million is at stake for recovery. Officials say taxpayers have a right to see these federal funds allocated to those truly in need of Section 8 housing assistance. The alleged fraud takes funds away from the federal government’s major program for assisting families with very low incomes, the elderly, and disabled in affording private housing options.
It’s important to note that some suspects may have been improperly or unreasonably classified as partaking in mortgage fraud by HUD and GBI. Only time will tell.
Source: WALB News, “HUD issues warrants,” September 1, 2010