Washington (Dec. 11, 2003) -- Just as the booming real estate market has fueled an increase in mortgage fraud and other phony real estate-related schemes, it has also apparently fueled an increase in the number of real estate fraud investigations by the Internal Revenue Service.

The number of real estate fraud investigations initiated by IRS Criminal Investigation has doubled in two years, from 107 during fiscal 2001 to 215 during FY 2003, which ended Sept. 30.

The IRS noted that the average prison term handed out by federal judges to defendants in these schemes nearly doubled over the same period, from 24 months in fiscal 2001 to 46 months in 2003.

The IRS says it has more than 4,000 returns under audit involving individuals and entities associated with the real estate business.

-- WebCPA staff

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