I guess it was only inevitable that “HUD” scams would evolve with all the home modification scams floating around. Con and scam artists seek out any kind of an opportunity to make a fast buck. Preying on homeowners who are about to lose their homes is one of the most heartbreaking scams of all.
In the small town in Ormond Beach, Florida, Deanna Falls received an official letter with the actual HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) logo on it. The letter offered help getting a loan modification. Her husband, a Korean War veteran had serious health problems. They had been trying to get a home modification but were recently denied. The letter from “HUD” seemed like a miracle to her – they would be able to get that home modification they so desperately wanted.
She called the “HUD” number on the letter. They were nice, polite and had all her information – including her Chase mortgage loan number, the interest rate and the balance of her current loan. These people had all her information. There was no reason to doubt the “HUD” modification was the real deal.
They sent her an approved loan modification document that dropped Deanna’s mortgage payment considerably. She wired their mandatory $3,500 to cover the processing fees to the “HUD” office immediately. She didn’t want to miss out on this miracle. If she received a notice from Chase for payment, she was told to ignore it. It would take awhile for the computer to catch up.
A couple of weeks later, and a little worried she hadn’t received the final modification paperwork, she decided to call the “HUD” office to inquire but the number was disconnected. The “HUD” address turned out to be a private mailbox in California using a street address. The money she had paid was gone and Chase still wanted their mortgage payment.
Victims all over the U.S. are turning up with the same “HUD” scam. It’s unknown how or where these scam artists hacked your private information. They’re targeting homeowners who have been turned down recently for loan modifications and sending them letters on stationary with the real HUD logo.
Another HUD scam is by a group who claim to be real estate agents. A HUD home has a sticker in the window with the contact information for the company in charge of maintenance (like lawn care) and a number to report any vandalism. The group of phony realtors will even put up their own bogus “For Sale and For Rent” sign on the front lawn.
These fake real estate agents gain access to the HUD homes. They remove the sticker and claim the home as their own. Many times they place a sign on the side of a highway “House for Sale – Only $49,000. Call 000-0000”. They claim they have to leave the area right away, just got a job in another state, a parent is very ill and will rent or sell to you. All they need is a deposit usually two months’ rent.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating but have few leads. These people are in and out of an area within a week or two. If caught, it’s doubtful the victims will ever get any money returned to them.
Beware of the ‘too good to be true’ deals. Hackers are getting your information and creating more sophisticated and elaborate schemes. Investigate – call the real HUD phone line.
Keith A. Gantenbein, Jr. is a Colorado consumer advocate attorney, foreclosure defense and real estate attorney located in Denver and servicing all of Colorado. His foreclosure defense practice includes: foreclosure prevention, foreclosure assistance, loan modifications, short sales, and all other foreclosure defense legal assistance. He also handles bankruptcies, wrongful credit reporting, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, real estate, civil litigation, debt defense, debt harassment, contracts and landlord/tenant. If you think you will be facing debt collection, foreclosure, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, contact Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.