Scam Artists At Work: Borrowers Beware


Last week, while touting the success of one part of the Making Homes Affordable plan, President Obama issued a warning:

As people have become aware that the government is helping to promote refinancing, we're starting to see some scam artists out there who are contacting people saying, you can refinance your home, the government has got a program, we're ready to help -- oh, but by the way, first you've got to pay some money. I just want everybody who is watching today to know that if somebody is asking you for money up front before they help you with your refinancing, it's probably a scam.

I've been talking a lot to someone on the forefront of the loan mod scam epidemic, interestingly, a former subprime lender himself. Steve Dibert started a website, where he seeks to educate troubled borrowers on the ever-increasing number of scams targeting them.

To be totally fair, he does operate a "forensic mortgage auditing firm," ie fraud investigations, and for that he charges a fee.

Spring Real Estate Guide 2009 | A CNBC Special Report
Spring Real Estate Guide 2009 | A CNBC Special Report

Anyway, he keeps me posted on the latest greatest scams, and I thought I'd share one.

Steve writes:

I have had four people already approach me about the mysterious "Form 009-S Payment Reduction Notification" from the "Program Director." In my opinion, whoever did this is an evil genius. Everyone has heard of the stimulus package and President Obama's commitment to help homeowners. So this document seems like it could be legitimate. People are desperate, and that desperation causes them to want to believe anything.

To be fair, in the fine print at the bottom of the form, it does say: "This product or service has not been approved or endorsed by any government agency and this offer is not being made by an agency of government...Rates and terms are subject to change."

I actually find that part the worst, as this is so clearly designed to confuse borrowers seeking real government assistance.

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