BY WILLIAM DORICH
In every disaster there are those who look for opportunities to take advantage of the vulnerable. Foreclosure brings out scammers looking for opportunities.
When you are facing foreclosure and looking for help to avoid losing your home, you need to be careful. There are many corrupt individuals just waiting to pounce upon you and take advantage of your misfortune. They advertise themselves as foreclosure "rescuers" or "experts." Before you realize it, they will acquire your property without a formal or recorded purchase for a fraction of what it would have brought at sale.
Without recording any change of ownership they will try to rent your property to another unsuspecting person while you remain legally bound to make the mortgage payments. The mortgage company is unaware that anything is wrong and you are left on the hook to pay the mortgage on a house you no longer possess and upon which you do not receive rentals.
Most homeowners lack adequate knowledge about foreclosure, their legal rights, and alternatives to foreclosure. Beware of scammers who promise rescue from foreclosure.
There are mainly three categories of foreclosure rescue scams: The Phantom Help - The Bailout - The Bait-and-Switch.
In Phantom Help: the so-called rescuer will charge fees for light-duty phone calls or paperwork you can easily do yourself. None of these phone calls or paperwork actually results in saving your home. It just gives you a false sense of hope and prevents you from seeking qualified help.
In a Bailout: the rescuer deceives you into signing over title with the belief that you will be able to remain in the house as a renter and eventually buy it back over time. The actual terms are so onerous that the buy-back becomes impossible, you lose possession and the rescuer walks off with the right to sell and possess without the costs of foreclosure.
It is important at this point to stress that you DO NOT SIGN anything without consulting an attorney, no matter what these scammers tell you. If the deal is so good and so beneficial to you it will be just as good in a few days after you have had sufficient time to read the document and seek legal advice. Any deal that sounds too good to be true, usually is.
In Bait-and-Switch: under the guise of having you sign documents to bring your mortgage current, the rescuers will cause you to surrender your ownership. The documents appear to be temporary loans. They will do this in a sneaky way so that you will not realize you have been scammed until you are evicted.
How does the scam work? Scammers approach homeowners in many ways including a straightforward phone call, or flyers and brochures being left at the door, and even a knock on the door. Some of the scammers are well organized and advertise in the local newspaper classified section. Some even have their own websites.
When you are faced with foreclosure, you do not have much time to react. This can lead you to make hasty decisions without consulting others. Scammers almost always highlight the lack of time and insist that you make quick decisions. They then pressure you for a quick signature on documents that you have not been given adequate time to read.
The initial contact typically revolves around a simple message and frequently contains a "time is of the essence" theme, adding a note of urgency to what is already a stressful and possibly desperate situation. Once you fall for the trap and decide to move forward with the rescuer, you will be promised a fresh start at the initial meeting and they may also provide you with testimonials of other homeowners they claim to have rescued. They will then instruct you to cease all contact with your lender and allow them to take over. Any time you cease all contact with your lender, it is dangerous. It cuts off access to your options and you can quickly run out of time to prevent foreclosure. By the time you realize what is happening, it's too late and you have been conned.
Scammers will do everything to cut off a homeowner's access to correct information. They win the homeowner's trust and warn the homeowner to stay away from attorneys and counseling agencies, ironically on the grounds that the attorneys and agencies are "out to make money from the homeowner's misfortune."
Once it is too late to save your home, you will have been drained by substantial heavy fees and other charges. If a deed was signed on fraudulent promises, you, the homeowner, will be evicted by the "rescuer" from the property you once owned.
For more information read Defeat Forclosure