RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Like most scams, this one involves half truths and false promises. In this case, crooks claim they can review your mortgage and provide you with an audit report that could help you avoid foreclosure, or even cancel your loan. Not everyone providing these services is fraudulent, but according to the Federal Trade Commission there is no proof that forensic loan audits can help provide foreclosure relief even if they are conducted by a licensed, legitimate professional.
"You don't have to pay for foreclosure advice...if they ask you to pay....walk away. Never pay for a service," said Paula Sherman.
It's Paula Sherman's job to help people deal with foreclosure problems, or avoid it all together. She works with Housing Opportunities Made Equal or H.O.M.E. Another mission of hers is to alert the public about con artists running foreclosure scams.
"Their goal is not to help you. They are out to hurt you and make a profit of the homeowners misfortune," Sherman said.
Her most recent warning to homeowners is to avoid the so called forensic mortgage loan audit. In exchange for hundreds of dollars upfront, criminals claim they can review your mortgage and provide a detailed report that can be used to reduce your loan, or cancel it all together. Sherman says here's what you might here.
"'If we can find something wrong with your mortgage we can use this as leverage against your mortgage company to force them into modifying your mortgage,' and nothing could be further from the truth," she said.
She says, the crooks are usually familiar with loan documents and give you a convincing pitch about how they can help -- Sherman says it's about the money.
"The homeowner after they make the last payment, they don't hear from this person anytime...they call to follow up and find out what's going and they can't anyone on the phone," Sherman said.
Sherman says, many times the victims contact the criminals directly -- duped by misleading ads in papers or online. While new foreclosure deceptions are popping up, workers at H.O.M.E say the old ones like the rent-buy-back scams same are still being used, and people are still falling for it.
"The goal is never to really allow them to rent the house back...it's just a covert way to rip the house away from someone so they can turn around and sell it," Sherman said.
Experts say if you are facing foreclosure there are organizations like H.O.M.E and other H.U.D approved agencies that offer free counseling services. They say the first thing you should do is contact your mortgage company to see what options you may have.