A new bill that would expand the authority of prosecutors to investigate cases of foreclosure document fraud has cleared most legislative hurdles in the Georgia General Assembly and is pending a final vote in the state Senate.
The measure, House Bill 237, is the state’s response to the foreclosure documents crisis that broke last fall with accusations that some financial institutions and the companies they hired submitted falsified, forged or improperly notarized court documents in thousands of foreclosure cases. Several other states are considering similar measures.
The state’s legislation also comes at a time when Attorneys General from all 50 states are working on a settlement with a number of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders — a settlement that includes stiff penalties against the lenders and mandates that they implement foreclosure fraud safeguards.
The Georgia bill, if approved, would make it a crime to falsify foreclosure documents and also would give the state Attorney General and local district attorneys subpoena power to investigate claims of fraud.