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Warn members about mortgage fraud tactics
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (1/5/12)--The California Department of Real Estate issued a mortgage fraud warning to consumers that credit unions can pass on to their members.

The department is advising consumers look out for mortgage relief, loan modifications, and foreclosure rescue scams perpetrated by fraudsters on financially strapped homeowners looking for a way out of trouble (American Banker Jan. 3).

One prominent tactic used by scamsters and third-party operators is to ask for an up-front fee from homeowners in exchange for promised reduced monthly mortgage payments. When the fee is paid, the con artists do little or nothing to procure the loan modification for the bilked homeowner, the Banker said.

More than 1,000 administrative actions for modification scams have been filed in the department's database since 2009, said the agency.

The most widespread action the department takes is the issuing of a desist-and-refrain order to shady third-party operators to stop their illicit activities.

It is not necessary for consumers to use third-party operators, because they may not enhance a homeowner's ability to obtain a payment modification--and may hinder working with the homeowner's mortgage servicer, said the California Association of Realtors. Any ads that claim to "stop foreclosure now" and offer "money-back guarantees," should be considered with caution, the association said.

Third-party fraudsters scan foreclosure notices in public filings and the news media to locate potential victims, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
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