Fraud Unit Created in Minnesota

February 1, 2011

A Civil Frauds Unit has been created in Minnesota with the responsibility of combating financial fraud, including mortgage fraud and bank fraud.

U.S. Attorney for Minnesota B. Todd Jones announced this month the new unit will work closely with the criminal division to halt on-going criminal fraud and freeze assets before indictments are filed, pursuant to the Anti-Fraud Injunction Act. Moreover, the unit intends to collaborate with the Civil Division's Asset Forfeiture Unit to freeze and seize money in pending criminal fraud cases for use as restitution to victims.

Targets of investigations may not have the same protections and could potentially face greater penalties in civil cases compared with criminal cases. For instance, the federal government has a broad range of civil enforcement remedies under federal anti-fraud laws, including civil monetary penalties, treble damages and equitable and injunctive relief. These remedies are not available in most criminal actions. In addition, civil litigation requires a lower burden of proof and can result in higher damages awarded than in criminal cases. Thus, industry members need to be fully informed of their rights and aware of the risks before responding to requests for information from this new unit.