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SIGTARP Terminates More Mortgage Modification Scams

The ""Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program"":http://www.sigtarp.gov/ (SIGTARP) announced Monday that it intervened to block 40 mortgage modification schemes advertised on Yahoo! and Bing.

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In response, Microsoft terminated 400 advertising contracts with the perpetrators of the schemes. Microsoft is the founder of Bing, and its technology backs Yahoo! Search.

Monday's notice follows an ""announcement last week"":http://dsnews.comarticles/sigtarp-and-google-fight-mortgage-scammers-2011-11-16 in which SIGTARP reportedly shut down 85 mortgage modification scams advertised on Google, following which Google suspended advertising with 500 advertisers involved in the schemes.

""SIGTARP's work in cutting off these Internet advertisements will immediately and dramatically decrease the scope and scale of these scams by limiting their ability to seek out and victimize struggling homeowners,"" said Christy Romero, deputy special inspector general for SIGTARP.

""SIGTARP will investigate and hold accountable criminals who defraud homeowners in connection with HAMP, while doing everything we can to stop homeowners from becoming victims in the first place,"" Romero continued.

The most common mortgage modification fraud schemes SIGTARP found advertised on Bing, Yahoo!, and Google include requests for preliminary payments to pursue modifications with instructions to discontinue mortgage payments and contact with servicers.

Other schemes instructed borrowers to send payments to the fraud perpetrator instead of the servicer, to transfer property deeds to the scammer, and/or to provide the scammer with personal financial information.

Some fraudsters attempted to disguise themselves as government agencies by displaying government seals or adopting names similar to a government agency. They promise to help borrowers modify their loans through the ""Home Affordable Modification Program"":http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/programs/lower-payments/Pages/hamp.aspx (HAMP).

SIGTARP warns homeowners to seek modifications through their servicers or contact a HUD-approved housing counselor at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673).

About Author: Krista Franks Brock

Krista Franks Brock is a professional writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing sectors since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia.
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