Warning: Mortgage foreclosure rescue scams growing rapidly

It is the way of the world – soon as some disaster strikes or people are in a bad situation, there’s always some online scam artist there to relieve them of their money.  The current mortgage money crisis is no different.  The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning US homeowners that it has heard complaints from victims of foreclosure rescue schemes in almost all 50 states. Not surprisingly, states with the highest foreclosure rates—such as Georgia, Colorado and Ohio—have an exceptionally high number of complaints for companies offering foreclosure rescue.  The BBB  warns that gloomy forecasts for the housing and financial markets means that increasingly more people could fall prey to mortgage foreclosure scams in the future. “According to estimates, as many as 1.7 million homeowners could lose their house to foreclosure in the next couple years,” said Steve Cox, spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau in a statement. “These people will be in the desperate position of trying to save their home and they’ll look for someone to trust. Unfortunately, con artists are seeing their chance to step in and make a fast buck off of troubled homeowners from Palm Springs to Pittsburgh.” The BBB says  homeowners report that they were either contacted directly by a mortgage foreclosure rescue company or came across a Web site while searching for help to stop foreclosure on their home. The companies claimed they would renegotiate the terms of their mortgages and stop foreclosure actions, or the homeowners would get their money back. Victims, who were desperate to keep their homes, paid as much as $1,300. In the end, the companies did very little work or often nothing at all. Most victims, not only lost their homes, but they also have not been able to get their money back. The BBB says a number of facts demonstrate the concern: ·          In the last three years, the Clearwater, FL BBB received 508 complaints for foreclosure services headquartered in their area. Of those complaints, 322 came within the last 12 months. The total amount of refunds requested by the complainants in the Clearwater area amounts to more than $600,000. ·          The Charlotte BBB reports that last year only two mortgage foreclosure rescue companies operated in the Charlotte area, but now the number has now jumped to 15—six of which have government actions against them including cease and desist requests, temporary restraining orders or consent judgments. ·          The Cleveland BBB reports a similar dramatic increase—21 new companies offering mortgage foreclosure rescue opened in the Cleveland area in the past year alone. Contact your BBB or go to www.bbb.org to request a free Reliability Report before paying any “rescue” company. You can also check with your state Attorney General and state Real Estate Commission.  An interesting article here also offers some great protection advice. Such schemes have become all too commonplace at times of trouble.  In July the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center warned of fraudulent e-mails that appear to come from the FBI and U.S. military.  The spam is actually pushing lotteries or are phony inheritance notifications, the IC3 said.  At the same time the IC3  warned that scammers were also sending out fraudulent e-mail claiming to be from U.S. soldiers stationed overseas. "The scam e-mails vary in content; however, the general theme of each is to request personal information and/or funds from the individual receiving the e-mail," the IC3 said.   

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