Consumer Alert
03/27/2008



Attorney General Advises Consumers About Potential Mortgage Fraud Scams, Offers Tips to Protect Homes

~ Legislation, lawsuits and consumer education among efforts to help Floridians avoid foreclosure rescue scams, other fraudulent schemes ~

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today issued a consumer advisory on mortgage fraud and foreclosure-related scams. Noting that Florida now ranks first in the nation for the number of home foreclosures, the Attorney General encouraged Floridians to educate themselves about the various types of mortgage fraud and learn about the foreclosure process to protect themselves from becoming potential victims.

“As we see the number of foreclosures continue to increase, we have unfortunately also seen the number of mortgage-related scams grow and threaten more Floridians,” said Attorney General McCollum. “We will continue to fight these fraudulent operations with every resource we have available to us, whether it is litigation, consumer education, or legislation with the help of our leaders in the Florida Legislature.”

Just yesterday, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against three Broward County companies and their owners for their alleged roles in a foreclosure rescue scheme. The deceptive operation defrauded numerous homeowners in the foreclosure process out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in home equity. Other companies have been sued for similar behavior by the Attorney General’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force.

In addition to filing lawsuits to protect Florida homeowners from unscrupulous business practices, the Attorney General is supporting the Foreclosure Fraud Prevention Act, which passed unanimously in the House yesterday. The proposed legislation will ensure that, among other things, homeowners are properly informed about their rights when they are signing a contract with a foreclosure rescue entity. It will also provide a three-day right of cancellation period that allows the consumer to cancel the agreement with the foreclosure rescuer and makes violations of this act unfair and deceptive trade practices subject to the penalties included in Chapter 501, Florida Statutes. The legislation is being sponsored by Senator Mike Fasano (R—New Port Richey) and Representative Clay Ford (R—Gulf Breeze).

The Attorney General has also cautioned senior citizens about scams associated with reverse mortgages, a type of home equity loan frequently abused by con artists and scammers. These loans are often popular options for senior citizens because they offer a cash source which can help meet unexpected medical expenses, supplement social security and more. More information about reverse mortgages is available at http://www.HUD.gov. Additional information about avoiding mortgage foreclosures and identifying common scams is available on the Attorney General’s website, http://myfloridalegal.com. A page dedicated to helping consumers educate themselves about mortgage foreclosures is available online at: http://myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/Main/55BC21CB13128F728525741800481491.