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.

Scam of the day – October 12, 2012 – Mortgage modification scams

Scammers taking advantage of homeowners having difficulty paying their mortgages through fraudulent schemes that purport to assist homeowners with their mortgage difficulties, but then only steal more money from the desperate homeowners are finding that the federal government is taking strong actions against such scammers.  Earlier this week Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the federal government’s Distressed Homeowner Initiative had filed criminal actions against 530 people during the past year.  These defendants are accused of stealing money from 73,000 distraught homeowners at a cost of a billion dollars.  In addition to these criminal actions, there have also been more than 100 civil actions filed against another 150 defendants accused of scamming 15,000 vicims out of 37 million dollars.

TIPS

The best way to deal with a scam is to avoid being taken in the first place.  For too many people desperate times have resulted in people taking desperate measures.  Be wary of ads for mortgage assistance that you get through an email and don’t pay upfront fees for mortgage assistance.  Always check out the legitimacy of any company with which you may consider working with the Better Business Bureau, your state’s attorney general and the Federal Trade Commission.  You may also find it helpful to Google their name with the word “scam” next to it and see what comes up.  Some mortgage scam rescuers request that you sign your home over to them on a temporary basis until the debts are dealt with.  These are always scams.