"Foreclosure rescue scams are big business right now." Groups like Zimmerman's say that as soon as borrowers end up in foreclosure -- a matter of public record in the United States - they are bombarded with calls, leaflets and knocks on the door from people armed with fraudulent offers of help.
Huston Julian, 54, of Eastpointe, Michigan, nearly fell for such a scam.
Julian bought a home in this working class suburb of Detroit in October 2006, but fell behind with his $1,084 monthly payment when his disability benefits were cut off.
He ended up in foreclosure in December.
"I got calls all day from people saying they could save my home," said Julian, 54, seated at a small table in his kitchen.
One group promised help if he gave them $3,800.
He borrowed money from family and was all ready to pay, until his suspicions were aroused by the frequency of their calls.
"I said to myself 'something just ain't right here," Julian remembered.
On the advice of his younger sister, he got in touch with local non-profit counseling agency the Michigan Neighborhood Partnership (MNP).
"I was able to convince Huston not to send the money and explained to him this was a rescue scam," said Juanita Bryant, a loss mitigation specialist at MNP who is negotiating with Julian's lender on a mortgage repayment schedule based on his restored disability benefits.
While such scams are on the rise, law enforcement agencies are overwhelmed.
"Almost every foreclosure rescue program you see out there is fraud," said Todd Lackner, a San Diego-based mortgage fraud investigator.
"Sadly, the law enforcement community lacks the funds to investigate or prosecute all the cases." Nonprofit groups say they, too, are vastly outgunned.
"The challenge we face is we lack the resources to compete with groups going door-to-door targeting home owners," said Josh Zinner, co-director of New York-based nonprofit NEDAP.
As well as extorting money with promises of help that never materialize, other rescue scams include tricking borrowers into signing over part or all of their property.
Often, the owners think they are signing a refinancing when they are actually signing a deed of transfer.