Scammers zero in on elderly victims
Ted Hubert
Many senior citizens are on a fixed income. However, as the years flee by living expenses spiral upward.

No one is more aware of this situation, than con artists. They realize many senior citizens do not own homes and mortgages must be paid.

Medical expenses are a must.

At the grocery, food prices go up. Aging is not for sissies. You have to be tough and bear the pain and discomfort of living, as we get older.

These criminals also know that as people age, they become more vulnerable. Many are lonely and may fall victim, if the person they trust is set to take unfair advantage of them.

One of the ugliest effects of this economic downturn is how it’s brought out crooks who prey on financially distressed homeowners by ensnaring them in “homeloan modification scams.”

It may come to you in the form of a phony counseling or a foreclosure rescue scam. The crook will pose as an agent of a counseling company designed to save money by negotiating with the homeowner’s lender.

He will do this service for you if and when you pay in advance. This should place you on alert. Paying in advance is routinely requested by con artists.

It is not uncommon for this “agent” to request that you let him deal directly with the lender during this negotiating period.

You are not to contact the lender at all and you may be asked to send the house payment to the agent until the transactions are complete.

The normal practice is that once the up-front fee is paid and a few mortgage payments are received, the agent just disappears. Your money is gone forever.

Important lessons here are to never stop communicating with your lender; don’t pay money upfront for services not performed; never send a mortgage payment to anyone other than the lending company.

Another opportunity may come as a government modification program. This program may have a fee.

The representative may claim his compa ny is gover nment approved or affiliated with the government.

Official sounding names for companies or names that sound like known companies that are well established with good reputations and terms that have government rings to them are also used to persuade you.

Call your lending institution about your eligibility for governmental relief. They can help you in this area free of charge.

Watch for the bait and switch tactic used to offer you financial assistance orally yet the documents you are signing actually signs your home over to the con artist. Read the fine print, carefully. Take your time, ask questions, and do not act under any pressure to act immediately. Give your self time to investigate all the options. The schemers do not want you to wait.

Their advice to you is to trust them, call no one, and to act now. The more pressure you feel in this situation the more determined you need to be to stay in control. Haste may cause you to surrender the title of your home to a thief.

Rent-to-own or a lease back scheme should be avoided. The plan has the homeowner sign the title over to avoid foreclosure with the option to apply rent money toward the purchase of the home.

The new owner will keep raising the rent until you can’t afford the payment.

When you default a couple months you are evicted for nonpayment of the rent. The scam artist then sells the home and keeps the equity.

Report these scams and save others from being victimized.

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2010-10-28 digital edition

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