Swindlers Could Cause You to Lose Your House
Jun 26 2008
Perhaps you thought making your mortgage payment was all you had to do to keep a roof over your head? Not any more. Identity thieves are moving into the real estate market with new scams involving home equity or transferring property according to this recent FBI report.
In one scheme, scammers seek out people with good credit and home equity and open lines of credit in their names. Using a stolen ID, a con artist poses as a customer to establish an online Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). Then, manipulating the customer account verification process with rerouted telephone calls, forged signatures, and illegal access to account histories, the perpetrator requests an advance of funds against the loan account.
HELOC’s are particularly susceptible to identity thief abuse, because they are “an easy, fast and inexpensive means to obtain funds,” according to the FBI.
In another scheme, outlined in the Los Angeles Times, perpetrators examine business records to gain the private information needed to create fake IDs and Social Security cards needed to transfer a property’s ownership. The target in this scam is typically an empty home or vacation property, which can be put on the market and sold with the crook pocketing the proceeds before the rightful homeowner knows it.
“The FBI said the possibilities seem to be endless,” NPR reports. Of course, if you’re the rightful owner you shouldn’t lose your house to a fraudster, but just thinking of the money and time you might spend trying to prove your home is your own will likely leave you as sleepless as you were the first night you put in the offer on the house.
“Mortgage fraud is clearly on the rise,” the FBI stated. The agency saw a 47 percent increase in mortgage fraud investigations from 2006 to 2007 and a 176 percent jump in the past five years. In the past, we’ve covered cases in which identity thieves drained a homeowner’s mortgage payment account. Warnings of foreclosure rescue scams are also, regrettably, prevalent. And just this month, an FBI sweep led to the Department of Justice arresting more than 400 mortgage fraudsters.
According to the FBI, the top 10 hotspots nationwide for mortgage fraud in 2007 were Florida, Georgia, Michigan, California, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, New York, Colorado, and Minnesota.
Home Equity Line of Credit
Foreclosure Rescue Scam