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California Accounts for Nearly 25% of Suspect Foreclosure Rescue Scams

Nearly one-quarter of calls from homeowners who believe they are victims of a foreclosure rescue scam originate in California, according to statistics released by the ""Homeownership Preservation Foundation"":http://www.995hope.org (HPF), which operates a national hotline to direct homeowners to accredited counseling services.
[IMAGE] ""Although California was among the states most hard hit by the housing crisis, the reported foreclosure rescue scam activity seems disproportionately higher than we would have expected,"" said Colleen Hernandez, HPF's CEO.

Since February of last year, HPF has operated a specialty unit of their Homeowner's HOPE Hotline that focuses on victims of scams or those approached by someone offering related services they suspect are fraudulent.

Twenty-two percent of the calls handled by the special fraud unit came from California. Florida, which ranked

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second, accounted for 7 percent of the calls. Texas and New York ranked third with 5 percent.

""It's surprising that the scam activity is so widely dispersed rather than concentrated in areas or regions with the highest foreclosure rates,"" Hernandez said.

While California's reported fraudulent activity was significantly higher than other states, only Los Angeles ranked in the top five cities, indicating that purported scam activity isn't concentrated in any one area of the state, according to the nonprofit agency.

Miami ranked highest among cities for reported scams, followed by Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston, and Chicago.

HPF also revealed that almost half of the calls received were from homeowners who voluntarily identified themselves as African-American, Hispanic, or Asian.

""Repeated studies have shown that minorities were disproportionately targeted for predatory lending during the housing boom, and we have compelling evidence indicating that minorities are bearing the brunt of an unusually high percentage of mortgage scams,"" Hernandez said.

The Federal Trade Commission issued a rule in February prohibiting payment of any upfront fees to negotiate mortgage reduction payments on behalf of a homeowner. But HPF says a number of companies and individuals continue to violate the rule, asking on average $2,589.58 upfront to modify a mortgage.

About Author: Heather Cernoch

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