Scam of the day – August 12, 2017 – Mortgage modification scams

Recently Sammy Araya, the mastermind behind a mortgage modification scam that managed to steal approximately eleven million dollars from victims of his  scam was sentenced to twenty years in prison for his crimes.

Araya and his cohorts took advantage of vulnerable people having difficulty paying their mortgages by representing that they were affiliated with various federal programs such as the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and could reduce their mortgage payments.  Araya persuaded his victims to pay him what he called “trial mortgage payments” that he represented would be used to reduce their mortgages, but instead were used by Araya solely for his own personal use.  Many of Araya’s victims lost their homes to foreclosure when they made their payments to him rather than their lenders.

TIPS

Mortgage modification scams are common and dangerous.  Never pay any fees upfront to anyone promising to get you a mortgage modification.  It is a violation of federal law for legitimate mortgage relief organizations to charge you before their work is completed and your lender has modified the mortgage.

Also, avoid the mistake that Araya’s victims made and never send your mortgage payment to anyone other than your lender.

Finally, if you do decide to work with a particular mortgage modification company, make sure that they are legitimate by checking with your state’s attorney general.

You can also get help with mortgage modifications by going to www.hopenow.com which is a website of an alliance of legitimate lenders and government regulators.