I read Amy Le's Homescape Blog yesterday, and was distressed to hear the same old mortgage scam continues unabated.
California Authorities have indicted Charles Head, of Los Angeles, of defrauding over 100 homeowners, and raking in $12 Million in loan proceeds in this familiar scheme. The same scenario has played itself out across the country over the years - including here in Chicago - but the shear volume of new foreclosures, loan resets, and borrowers in over their head in debt makes the scam even harder to stomach.
He and his "investors" would prey on those who have fallen behind in their mortgage payments. Such homeowners are readily available in public record across the country - their names, addresses, lenders, and loan balances. The "investors" would promise reasonable rent, immediate payment of back mortgage payments and credit card debt, and the opportunity for the homeowner to buy back his property after a stated period of time, if their situation improved.
In return, they asked to be added to title on the homeowner's property, in most areas using a Quit Claim Deed. Unknown to the homeowners, however, these "investors" were really straw buyers. Working together with unscrupulous mortgage brokers, they took out a Home Equity Line of Credit against the full, newly-appraised value of the home. They never paid the original note - leaving the true owners in foreclosure within a few months, and subsequent eviction.
The "investors" ran off!
Head's alleged scammers used mass email and broadcast faxes to target homeowners in distress. They recruited "investors" online. As you may know, homeowners facing foreclosure receive a flood of solicitations from those ranging from ordinary real estate investors, to legitimate Real Estate Practitioners looking to help, to unethical practitioners hoping to take advantage of misfortune.
Dean's Team ran into a similar situation with a very religious, elderly woman in the Edgewater Neighborhood of Chicago about a year ago. The scheme was far smaller in size, but equally as painful to the victim.
Trusting the "lawyer" of an acquaintance, our client signed a Quit Claim Deed to add the supposed benefactor to title. He promised to pay her back mortgage payments, as her home was about to be foreclosed upon. He offered free rent to the woman for six months, and the option of buying the home back, for reasonable, stated cost, at the end of period.
Our homeowner never got the chance to get her home back. The scam artist drew out the largest equity loan he could get approved for, never made a payment on the original mortgage, and left. The elderly lady faced foreclosure, then eviction, way before the six-month "rental term" expired.
In this new, tougher lending climate, such a scam might be harder to complete. Unfortunately, however - the bad guys are very clever, and will attempt new schemes, I am sure.
Please see our post today at BlogChicagoHomes.comfor more info, as well as a link to Amy's Blog, via a link in today's Chicago Tribune online.
DEAN & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO