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When it comes to a mortgage foreclosure, there are various ways homeowners can get defrauded. When a homeowner is facing the loss of their home because their mortgage payments are behind or their debts are out of control, they can fall for foreclosure schemes easily. In the wake of the bursting housing bubble, there were predators everywhere looking to find homeowners to lure into promises of getting them out of their mortgage debts to be able to keep their homes. In reality, their situations just turned out to be much worse.
If you are a homeowner facing foreclosure, keep an eye out for people who try to sell you on solutions that seem too good to be true. Often you’ll be giving them ownership of your home and mortgage debt. Be wary when being asked to sign any written agreement for your home or mortgage. If the government finds out you had any knowledge of the fraudulent activities, there will be serious legal repercussions for you and worse financial issues.
Common Types Of Foreclosure Fraud Schemes
•”Equity Skimming” or Foreclosure Bailout Schemes
With these schemes, the predator will approach a homeowner facing foreclosure and offer to purchase their home from them. They make this offer by telling the homeowner they will assume and pay off the remaining balance of the mortgage. In the meantime, the homeowner will become a renter and remain in the home. The “buyer” will be the homeowner. The scheme comes with the predator accepting the rent payments and not paying off the mortgage. In many of these same cases, the home was not bought at all.
•Hidden Balloon Payments
This scheme involves a predator offers a struggling homeowner a new payment that is supposed to be more affordable. Even though the homeowners will feel relieved being able to afford payments, they don’t know they are only paying the interest of their mortgage with each payment they make. The result of this scheme is the homeowner having to pay back the entire principal of the mortgage at once when all of the interest has been paid. This is referred to as a “balloon payment” and is often a significant amount no homeowner will be able to afford. Again, they will become subject to foreclosure.
•Getting Deeds Using False Claims
In this fraud scheme, a person will pretend they are a money lender and offers their services to help homeowners facing foreclosure by refinancing their mortgages. They tell the homeowner the deed will need to be signed over to them to be able to help. After the deed gets transferred, the “lender” will disappear and offer no assistance to the homeowner. They now own the home and can evict the previous homeowners they scammed.
•Altered or Forged Documents
Some foreclosure predators will sign documents using a homeowner’s name to gain ownership of the home instead of persuading them. In other cases, the predator may have a homeowner sign their name and alter it afterward.
•False Counseling Services
A group or individual may offer mortgage counseling to homeowners facing foreclosure and charge them fees for the services. The homeowners may not realize they are paying for services they may get for free elsewhere.
Protect Yourself From Foreclosure Fraud
It is important to understand you cannot sign over your mortgage to someone else. Only you are responsible for it. Additionally, you will never have to transfer ownership of your mortgage to someone else to get a refinance. If you feel like you are being targeted for foreclosure fraud, contact a reputable attorney for help. They can review any documents you receive if you are not sure they are safe.