Scammers took $1 billion from homeowners in past year
Federal agencies say they have charged 530 people and closed 200 firms in an effort to crack down on mortgage-relief scams.
The federal government has filed criminal charges against 530 people and closed down 200 companies in the past year, saying that they defrauded more than 73,000 homeowners across the country out of more than $1 billion through fraudulent mortgage-relief scams.
"With many homeowners still struggling to hold onto their homes, the FTC takes a hard line against con artists who are seeking their next victim," Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a news release issued as the federal government's Distressed Homeowner Initiative marked its first year of enforcement.
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Exactly how the schemes work vary. But they usually involve a scammer who offers to get a homeowner a mortgage modification or otherwise prevent foreclosure if the homeowner pays a substantial fee upfront.
The homeowner ends up out the money, without a mortgage modification and often losing the home to foreclosure.
One such scheme in the Riverside, Calif., area, for example, extracted more than $7 million from 4,000 distressed homeowners seeking mortgage modifications, many of whom subsequently lost their homes to foreclosure. The U.S. attorney in the central district of California brought criminal charges against 11 people in that scam last month.
These types of cases have replaced original-mortgage scenarios as the most common type of mortgage fraud, the FBI says.
"Mortgage-fraud perpetrators are resilient. They adapt their schemes to changes in economic conditions and in lending practices," said Kevin Perkins, associate deputy director of the FBI, at a news conference announcing the results of the year-long initiative.
Federal agencies also shut down or took other action against more than 900 "fraudulent or confusing websites and web advertisers" that used the U.S. Treasury seal and the names of key federal housing-relief programs "in an effort to dupe struggling homeowners looking for someone to help them," Attorney General Eric Holder said.
While such frauds have taken place all over the country, federal officials said that Los Angeles area is the epicenter of the schemes. The California Real Estate Fraud Report details many such cases, as well as other types of real-estate fraud.
The FBI has examples of fliers offering bogus mortgage relief and tips on how to avoid scams, as well as a public-service announcement by actor Tim DeKay of “White Collar.” The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force also has information on how to avoid becoming a victim.
All these regulations will just make the job creators go elsewhere, we need to get government off our backs and let the market decide who succeeds, we do not need big brother protecting the sheep err I mean consumers. People need to take responsibility for themselves, if they are stupid or old or senile or gullible or maybe can not afford a lawyer to read the contracts thats just too bad. Government is not ment to protect the common man but to serve the entitled and privileged.
Vote for Mit Robme and the Republican party, we will put a stop to these endless regulations and get Americans back to slavery err I mean work. Government does not create jobs and regulations kill jobs.
80,000 house after 30 years total cost 200,000 is called interest, a rate in which you agreed to pay the bank for giving you the money to purchase the 80,000 dollar house. Any and all fees placed on the loan after that are spelled out in your terms and agreement on the promissory note. Late charges after a certain date, fees comprised of defaulting on loan, collection fees after 90 days, legal fees after sent for foreclosure, fees to inspect property once in a default status are all there. To avoid any fees placed on your mortgage,pay it within the grace period, if a loan is current there should not be any fees associated with it. Unsure of any fees contact your bank or servicer and they can tell you what amount, when placed and why. DONT let them tell you they dont know, its in their system make them look!
Bring back the stockade. Thieves and scammers are just about as low as a murderer. These low life bastards deserve no mercy. Put them in a stockade, in a public place, so all honest people can humiliate them at their leisure. After the public is through with them, then lock them away for a good long time.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.