C.A.R. and California District Attorneys Association warn homeowners: beware of loan fraud scams
Sacramento, CALIF. – The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) and the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) today announced the launch of a comprehensive campaign to warn homeowners about the alarming increase in scams targeting foreclosure victims. With the recent mortgage settlement between the nation’s five major banks, troubled homeowners expecting a new round of assistance to reduce mortgage payments will be prime targets for these scammers. According to the non-profit Homeownership Preservation Foundation, reports of these attempted rip-offs have climbed nearly 60 percent nationwide in 2012 alone.
Joined by Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully, Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green and San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, C.A.R officials will hold events this month in Sacramento, Bakersfield, and San Diego to alert homeowners about the fraudulent activities targeting those facing foreclosure and offer information so that consumers can protect themselves and find legitimate sources of help.
In addition to the regional events, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® has produced public service announcements in English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese to educate homeowners about the unscrupulous scammers. PSAs will begin airing this month on radio and television stations throughout California.
“Homeowners facing foreclosure are in a vulnerable emotional and financial situation, and scammers will employ almost any tactic to exploit them,” said C.A.R. President LeFrancis Arnold. “It is important that these homeowners know that they should never pay fees in advance to anyone promising to lower their monthly payment or any other service. In fact, there are usually no costs associated with modifying a loan.”
“Our Real Estate Fraud Unit is on the front lines of preventing and prosecuting mortgage fraud crimes. If someone believes they may have been a victim of real estate fraud, or for information on how to avoid becoming a victim, we encourage them to contact our office,” said Sacramento County DA Scully.
C.A.R. advises homeowners to watch for these red flags if someone:
• Requests upfront payment before providing any service • Instructs the homeowner not to contact a lender, lawyer, housing counselor, family, friends, or others • Asks for mortgage payments to be made directly to his or her company or a bank account set up by that person, rather than your lender • Requires payment only in the form of cash, cashier’s check, or wire transfer • Promises to stop the foreclosure process, no matter the circumstances • Advises the homeowner to transfer your property deed or title to his or her company • Offers to fill out paperwork for the homeowner • Asks for something to be done immediately and without delay. This includes pressuring homeowners into signing paperwork that they have not had the chance to read thoroughly or do not fully understand • Encourages the homeowner to lease his home and buy it back over time • Offers to buy the homeowner’s house for a fixed price that is not set by the housing market at the time of sale • Asks the homeowner to give a power of attorney • Asks for signatures on a grant deed or deed of trust • Asks for signatures on a document that has lines left blank • Fails to provide copies of signed documents • Refuses or fails to put an oral promise in writing
To file a complaint:
• Contact the California Attorney General's Office or the Federal Trade Commission. • In Sacramento County, you may also contact the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office website: www.sacda.org • If the homeowner’s complaint is against a real estate broker, visit the Department of Real Estate website: http://www.dre.ca.gov/cons_complaint.html • If the homeowner’s complaint is against an attorney, visit the State Bar of California website: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Attorneys/LawyerRegulation.aspx
Leading the way...® in California real estate for more than 100 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (www.car.org) is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with 155,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.