House approves foreclosure fraud measure

Fudging foreclosure documents is a step closer to being fraud in Georgia, after the state House of Representatives approved a foreclosure fraud bill on Wednesday.

House Bill 237 is a key part of the legislative agenda of new Attorney General Sam Olens.

It would criminalize falsifying documents, which has been done to speed up the foreclosure process in some instances, and also would give Olens and district attorneys more power to investigate claims of fraud in those matters.

The bill passed 168-1 and now heads to the state Senate for review and a possible vote.

“It is very straightforward,” said Rich Golick, chair of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee and the bill’s sponsor.

The measure was supported by banking groups, including the largest banking association in the state, community banks and mortgage lenders.

The bill does allow for typos and other mistakes that might create problems with documents.

It does not address issues such as the missed payments that prompted the foreclosure process in the first place or create arbitration in those cases. Proposals by House Democrats on those issues have not been voted out of committee.