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Foreclosure Scammers Target Short Sales

Scottsdale, Arizona-based ""National Short Sale Center"":http://www.ShortSaleCenter.com says more than 50 percent of the homeowners it is working with to secure short sales have been approached by ""circumspect individuals or companies"" proffering fraudulent foreclosure rescue services.
With 20 percent of the nation’s homeowners underwater, the Obama administration recently introduced a new component of its Making Home Affordable program, aimed at steering struggling homeowners who do not qualify for a federal loan modification toward short sales. The government’s new plan will pay a servicer $1,000 for completing a successful short sale and will pay the borrower $1,500 to assist with relocation expenses.
While a short sale can prove to be a practicable alternative to foreclosure, National Short Sale Center says many struggling homeowners are confused about short sales and fall for deceptive offers, including phone calls, letters, advertisements, and e-mails (also known as phishing).
Travis Hamel Olsen, president of National Short Sale Center, stressed, ""Under no circumstances should anybody be paying an upfront fee to complete a short sale. Unscrupulous companies use myriad ways to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners. Usually if the deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.""
Foreclosure and loan modifications scams are a growing area of concern for lawmakers, investigators, and the industry. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is currently looking into more than 2,100 mortgage fraud cases—a 400 percent increase from five years ago. The recently enacted Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 allocates $500 million to the FBI, Justice Department, Secret Service, and Postal Service to combat mortgage fraud.
The types of fraud circulating include sale-leasebacks, quitclaims, stripping homeowner equity, and misleading homeowners into signing over deeds. And with the administration's mortgage relief initiatives and its recent push for modifications, dozens of bogus companies with official-sounding names and fake Web sites mimicking the fonts and layouts of government sites claim to help struggling homeowners modify their mortgages. Some unsuspecting borrowers have fallen prey to unscrupulous con artists that take them for up to $7,000 before disappearing.
Olsen said, ""The fraud usually comes through in the fine print, but foreclosure rescue teams and highly suspect scammers are basically taking homes through a variety of means, resulting in foreclosure and eviction.""

About Author: Carrie Bay

Carrie Bay is a freelance writer for DS News and its sister publication MReport. She served as online editor for DSNews.com from 2008 through 2011. Prior to joining DS News and the Five Star organization, she managed public relations, marketing, and media relations initiatives for several B2B companies in the financial services, technology, and telecommunications industries. She also wrote for retail and nonprofit organizations upon graduating from Texas A&M University with degrees in journalism and English.
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