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District Attorney Gregory D. Totten warned today that county residents should be vigilant when using online listing services to secure rental housing. Such services do not typically verify that the person advertising a property is actually authorized to list the property for rent. This creates an opportunity for criminals to prey upon unsuspecting victims.
Because of the ease of listing properties online on sites such as Craigslist.org, scams are difficult to detect. An online rental scam can be orchestrated from anywhere in the world. Therefore, the District Attorney recommends the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of this type of fraud:
Victims and property owners, or agents working on their behalf, who locate an unauthorized property being offered for rent online are encouraged to immediately submit a report to the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit via the following email address: email@example.com. Please only report suspicious properties advertised in Ventura County.
LOS ANGELES — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris issued a consumer alert today to warn homeowners about mortgage loan modification scams. The California Department of Justice has received an increased number of complaints from homeowners and has also been contacted by mortgage servicers that have expressed concern about these scams.
Scammers are calling and mailing homeowners, pretending to be their mortgage servicer or a representative from the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), to offer fake loan modifications and “trial payment plans” to lower mortgage payments. These scammers may send genuine-looking letters with the logo of the homeowner’s mortgage company, the homeowner’s account number, and deceptive contact information that routes homeowners to the scammers instead of their mortgage servicer. They may also call from telephone numbers that show up on caller ID as the homeowner’s mortgage company.
As with legitimate HAMP offers, homeowners are told that their loans may be permanently modified if they make three trial period payments and follow certain other requirements. Homeowners are usually instructed to send payments via wire transfer or money order to sham addresses that supposedly belong to their mortgage company, only to later discover that they have been sending payments to scammers and have lost thousands of dollars while their real mortgage company has not received any payment during the duration of the scam. Currently, the federal HAMP and HARP programs are set to end on December 31, 2016.
Other common mortgage modification scams include:
Homeowners should keep the following tips in mind to protect themselves from mortgage modification scams:
To submit a consumer complaint about a mortgage loan modification scam to the Office of the Attorney General, visit oag.ca.gov/contact/consumer-complaint-against-business-or-company.
 See SB 94, passed in 2009, and 16 C.F.R. Part 322
Date: March, 2011
Home Mortgage Relief Through Litigation and “Too Good to Be True” Claims Regarding Its Use to Avoid and/or Stop Foreclosure, Obtain Loan Principal Reduction, and to Let You Have Your Home “Free and Clear” of Any Mortgage).
This alert is written to warn consumers about marketing companies and others that offer and sell false hope and request the payment of upfront fees for so-called class litigation that will supposedly result in extraordinary home mortgage relief.
Date: January, 2011
Based on current trends in real estate fraud investigations, the following summary of a new version of a foreclosure rescue scam has been provided by a prosecutor in Northern California.
We have seen similar seminars and scams operating in Ventura County. One such scam has already resulted in the filing of criminal charges.
This is a relatively new variation of loan modification scam. I have started calling it the “Principal Reduction Scam”. Here is how we see it working up in Alameda County, although I’m sure their are minor variations in each case.
Date: October, 2010
Fraudulent foreclosure “rescue” professionals use half-truths and outright lies to sell services that promise relief to homeowners in distress. In exchange for an upfront fee of several hundred dollars, so-called forensic loan auditors…
Date: October, 2010
The DRE has noticed an increase in the use of questionable and possibly misleading terms such as “expert”, “certified”, and “specialist”…and many of these designations and claims seem to be nothing more than marketing ploys by unscrupulous fraudsters to capitalize on the desperation and vulnerability of unsophisticated and/or financially strapped homeowners.
Date: September, 2010
Several months ago, the Calif.Department of Real Estate issued a warning to the real estate industry about short sales and growing fraud in this area. This update is on the growing, questionable, and sometimes unlawful practice requiring buyers to pay the fees charged by short sale negotiators.
Date: June, 2010
Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. warns that while short sales can provide homeowners with a last-ditch alternative to foreclosure, this market is rife with scam artists. Homeowners and buyers, agents, and lenders should beware of short sale negotiators who operate without licenses, use straw buyers or charge illegal fees.
Date: May, 2010
Multiple scams have recently come to light with the increase in Short Sales. By definition, a Short Sale occurs when a property needs to be sold and the value is less than what is owed to the lender(s). A successful Short Sale requires the lender(s) approval to accept less than what is owed on the property.