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If you are sitting at home trying to figure out how to save your home from the black hole of our current economy, you may want to take a minute to think about how you got in this situation in the first place. The economic crisis has happened so quickly that many of us haven’t had a chance to take stock of the situation.

But it appears that the United States Justice Department has an idea who might be to blame:

Federal law enforcement officials said today they are targeting lawyers, mortgage brokers, real estate brokers, and other “gatekeepers” who perpetrated fraud that contributed to the current economic crisis — a clear warning shot as the federal government is pumping billions of dollars into the financial sector.

As Americans, we take pride in taking responsibility for our own actions. But we can’t be held responsible for all aspects of the economic mess. There are players involved who had much greater control over our financial lives. Unfortunately, those players–mortgage brokers, corporate lawyers and real estate brokers–played fast and loose with our lives so that they could make a buck. Or millions of bucks.

Compared to the $160 million lost during the S&L crisis, the current situation is far direr, with financial institutions globally reducing their assets by more than $1 trillion. But the Justice Department’s focus on national security has diminished the fraud ranks. Pistole said 240 agents, supplemented by investigators from other agencies, are working on fraud cases stemming from the economic crisis.

It would appear that in many ways the federal government is a day late and a dollar short in these investigations. Had they been prosecuting these crimes more consistently, we might not be in this situation.

Of course, you might have a private right of action against any of these players who committed fraud against you. If you believe that you have been the victim of mortgage fraud, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact an attorney. While the inclination might be to blame yourself, there were forces at work beyond an individuals control. Those forces should be held accountable.

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