The sagging economy and sluggish housing market create the perfect environment for mortgage scams, with desperate homeowners as easy prey for scammers.
The crooks say what you want to hear. They make the deal sound attractive and legit. You are suspicious at first, but somewhere along the way, you give them money or sign documents you were not supposed to sign. Soon, you realize you've been scammed.
Thousands of homeowners are duped in mortgage scams each year, and con artists don't have to look far for victims, says Yolanda McGill, senior counsel for the Fair Housing & Fair Lending Project, an initiative by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C.
Most of the victims reach out to the scammers themselves through Internet searches, she says. She bases her conclusion on more than 16,000 complaints her organization has received from mortgage scam victims since last year.
"The people showing up in our databases are people who are looking for help on the Internet," she says.
Instead of finding help, they find a scam.
You should be aware of the following common mortgage scams.