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Watch out for foreclosure scams

Foreclosure rescue scammers are skilled con-men and women who prey on homeowners at their worst. Their victims fear losing the roofs above their respective heads. Suddenly, so-called “help” from so-called professionals swoop in to save dwellings.

In reality, their goal is not to save but to separate homeowners from their property and any available money. Their job is to go online and identify owners of houses in foreclosure. Some place ads promising miracles. Others make direct calls or leave a note on the front door of their potential victims. They make lofty promises of preserving residences and credit scores, if not provide them with a bit of cash.

A so-called fresh start is anything but

Those who take the bait meet with the scammers who offer not-so-sage advice on the next steps. They demand zero contact with a lender or attorney, offering to handle all aspects of “rescuing” their home. In reality, they are cutting a vital cord that could help the homeowner find legitimate solutions.

Immediate profits are the sole objective. They charge fees, claiming the “convenience” of a lump sum or monthly payments. They encourage monetary sources that include the money that could go directly to the mortgage company. They wrongly claim they will pass on the payments and negotiate a settlement to keep them in their homes.

Scams take many forms and include:

  • Loan modifications – For a fee, the scammer guarantees a modified interest rate. The moment that money changes hands is the moment that the scammer vanishes.
  • Shell game – While claiming to provide documents to sign that keep them in their home while the scammer negotiates for them, the reality is that the homeowner signed over property ownership.
  • Rent-to-buy – The scammer convinces the owner to give up ownership and create a landlord-tenant dynamic. Soon rent costs rise, ex-owners miss payments, and eviction proceedings commence.

A “too-good-to-be-true” arrangement is likely just that. Knowing the signs helps. Those who have been scammed need immediate legal representation.