Foreclosure fraud, as if times aren’t hard enough, is running widespread. A lot of fraudulent companies are in search of desperate homeowners to prey upon and take what little bit of money or equity they have left.
Foreclosure fraud can begin with a knock on the door, a call, a letter in your mailbox or an e-mail. All homeowners need to beware, because this is help you did not seek, it found you.
“Scammers are taking advantage of people in a difficult situation – people who are trying to modify their home mortgages or those who are trying to avoid foreclosure. We’re enforcing the law against these scam artists; we’re putting others on notice that unless they change their ways, they’re next; and we’re working with other government agencies, non-profits, and mortgage companies to reach out to our neighbors in distress with the details of how to get help,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz
Marisol Perez, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was indicted on charges of four felony counts of theft in connection with the operation of We Save Your Home, LLC, a foreclosure rescue business.
The Indictment alleges that between July 2008 and May 2009, Perez misled customers into believing that, for a fee ranging from $1350 to $2000, she would guarantee a loan modification or reduction of the principal of her customer’s outstanding mortgage loans.
After receiving payment, Perez failed to do any work on behalf of her customers.
The State alleges that Perez materially misrepresented that she would obtain a loan modification for her customers within 45 to 90 days. However, after receiving payment, Perez failed to negotiate with lenders on behalf of her customers and failed to give refunds despite promising to do so.
A warrant has been issued for the Defendant’s arrest.
“My Mortgage Fraud Task Force continues to investigate, indict and obtain convictions for mortgage related crimes in Nevada,” said Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. “We want the scammers to know that mortgage and loan modification scams will not be tolerated in our State.”
The indictment is not a determination of guilt or innocence but is just a finding of probable cause that a crime was committed. The Defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Homeowners considering paying for foreclosure-assistance services, such as loan modification, should beware of anyone who tells them not to contact their lender or charges an upfront fee. It’s unlawful for companies that promise to help consumers in foreclosure to collect any money from them before they’ve done what was promised.
Facing Foreclosure: What You Can Do?
Do not panic or avoid the issue. The problem will not go away, and will worsen if ignored.
Check the Web site of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to locate
a HUD-approved housing counselor. HUD’s Website lists certified counselors by state at:
5 Tips to Avoid Being Scammed:
- Don’t pay up-front fees. Foreclosure consultants are prohibited by law from collecting money before services are performed.
- Don’t ignore letters from your lender or loan servicer. Responding to those letters is your best bet for saving your house.
- Don’t transfer title or sell your house to a “foreclosure rescuer.” Beware! This is a scam to convince homeowners they can stay in the home as renters and buy their home back later. It might also be part of a fraudulent bankruptcy filing. Either way, a scammer can then evict the victim and take the home.
- Don’t pay your mortgage payments to anyone other than your lender or loan servicer. Mortgage consultants often keep the money for themselves.
- Never sign any documents without reading them first. Many homeowners think that they are signing documents for a loan modification or for a new loan to pay off the mortgage they are behind on. Later, they discover that they actually transferred ownership of their home to someone who is now trying to evict them.
By the time the homeowners discover the fraud, it is TOO LATE.
We all need the fraudsters to FEAR retribution from the ethical honest “Real Estate Industry Professionals and Homeowners”.
We can prevent mortgage and real estate fraud one transaction at a time!
Michael S. Richardson
Director/Chief Quality Officer
Author of “An American Epidemic, Mortgage Fraud a Serious Business”
Follow me on Twitter @ FocusonFraud