Florida foreclosures are still a big problem for Florida borrowers; Florida homeowners; Florida lenders; and everyone else in the State of Florida impacted by the Florida housing industry or Florida real estate market. Yes, that’s pretty much everyone here in Florida.
Enter the fraudsters: con artists who see borrowers in a foreclosure situation not with compassion, but with greed. To these evildoers, the defaulting or underwater mortgage borrowers are prey – their emotional state and financial crisis serves to make them susceptible to all sorts of fraud.
Mortgage Scams in Florida – a Continuing Problem
It’s been happening for a while now, these criminals preying for marks in foreclosure situations. For example, a South Florida company has come under scrutiny recently for allegedly operating a mortgage relief scam on Florida borrowers that involved being paid in advance for services that purported to cancel or “void” their home mortgages.
In Tampa, a Florida law firm has been accused of mortgage fraud as it operated a foreclosure rescue business that had several web sites offering to help people across the country who were dealing the possibility of foreclosure on their home. It is alleged that the sites “mimicked” government sites which could make the web surfer think that they were accessing a government site, not a private company site. Additionally, the foreclosure rescue company charged fees (which had to be paid in advance) and never performed the services associated with those fees, including getting mortgage loan modifications with the lenders. The Florida Attorney General is prosecuting this scenario as mortgage fraud, too (read the complaint here).
Mortgage Foreclosure Help Scams are a Problem for All of Florida
The continued efforts to fleece Florida homeowners who are trying to fight foreclosure on their homes is important to everyone, not just those Florida borrowers who are behind on their mortgages. These bad actors hurt the borrower, of course, but they also hurt the community where the home sits, along with any potential buyers of the property, the lender on the mortgage, those who are legitimately trying to help people in trouble, and the economy as a whole.
Unfortunately, as Florida foreclosure rates continue to break records and remain number one in the country (see our prior post for details on those statistics), the State of Florida remains a prime target for mortgage scammers and foreclosure con artists who seek to take advantage of people fighting banks who are wanting to foreclose on them.
Fighting The Fraudsters
Florida foreclosure defense lawyers who help Florida homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure in legal, ethical, and compassionate ways are ready to help clients who have been victimized in mortgage scams. Sadly, there are many clients who come to Florida foreclosure attorneys with stories of how they haven’t been helped by their “mortgage relief company,” for example, and most Florida foreclosure defense lawyers have several stories of how these frauds have evolved and expanded over time. By this time, they’ve already been victimized.
This week, the Attorney General of the State of Florida demonstrated how state government is in the fight against these foreclosure fraudsters as Pam Bondi announced her office’s filing of criminal charges against a few parties, including Tampa lawyers Eric Mader, Sean Batcheler and Mader Law Group for their alleged fraudulent conduct.
Larry Tolchinsky’s Tip:
Things would be easier if there were one or two ways that mortgage fraud scams operate, but over the years, mortgage relief scams have been honed and developed into a variety of fraudulent operations. For example, two years ago (in August 2011) there were the arrests of Florida con artists operating “Home Owners Protection Economics, Inc.” – or “HOPE” for short. Such a great and comforting name for a company promoting itself as in the business of helping people save their homes from foreclosure right?
Well, sure. Except they were operating as telemarketers, getting people to pay them lots of cash in advance to help them avoid foreclosure – help that (surprise) never panned out. Both the federal government and the Florida Attorney General went after these guys, you can read more about what they did at their Better Business Bureau complaint page.
In Florida, it’s sad but true that lots of bad things are happening to good people. For those that are fighting a Florida foreclosure of their home, there may be valid defenses against that foreclosure as well as opportunities to modify the home loan or re-negotiate the mortgage.
Florida home owners that decide to get expert assistance with their foreclosure fight are being wise, it’s a David versus Goliath situation, after all.
However, Florida borrowers need to be aware of the charlatans that are out there, waiting to take advantage of people for profit. Florida foreclosure defense attorneys are more reasonable in rates and available to help Florida home owners and borrowers than many might think — and there are also legal aid organizations and local governmental agencies ready to help, too.
Red flag? A non-lawyer that asks to be paid in advance before they provide any help. Don’t get conned.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific or personal situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments.