More than $1.6 million in restitution has been secured for victims of mortgage fraud-related crimes and offered important tips to help Michigan consumers avoid becoming victims of foreclosure rescue scams.
The advice is issued as a commitment to educate the public during National Crime Victim Rights’ Week.
The Attorney General Homeowner Protection Unit has received restitution orders in the amount of $1,642,157 for approximately 843 victims. The Homeowner Protection Unit Reimbursement Fund has distributed a total of $301,776 to victims of mortgage fraud-related crimes who would otherwise receive no compensation, since the criminals who already spend their money are currently incarcerated. Since 2010, a total of 36 persons and companies have been convicted for committing mortgage fraud-related crimes. Several of the worst offenders were prosecuted for Racketeering resulting in prison sentences up 40 years.
Consumer Alert: Foreclosure and Credit Assistance
The national foreclosure crisis has severely impacted Michigan homeowners. As a result, law enforcement has witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of unscrupulous businesses and con artists who promised to help consumers keep their homes. Schuette’s office and federal officials have warned of scam artists who prey on the vulnerability of desperate homeowners in order to collect handsome fees — but don’t deliver any of the promised services. Many of these shady operations engage in high-pressure sales tactics and demand substantial fees in advance however; Michigan’s Credit Services Act (CSA) prohibits collecting fees in advance when seeking to negotiate a loan on behalf of a homeowner. Violating the CSA carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and/or $1,000 fine, and allows the Attorney General’s office to seek restitution for affected consumers.
Consumers should consider the following five suggestions to avoid foreclosure rescue fraud:
1. Homeowners are not required to pay to speak with their lender or servicer.
2. Homeowners seeking foreclosure assistance may call the Michigan State Housing Development Authority for free advice at 866-946-7432.
3. Never pay up front for help with negotiating your loan or working with your servicer.
4. If you believe you may be a victim of mortgage fraud or foreclosure rescue fraud, call the Attorney General’s office toll-free at 877-765-8388
5. View the Consumer Alert on Foreclosure and Credit Assistance by visiting: http://1.usa.gov/1n8pDZL
Attorney General Schuette made the announcement.
“Consumers should take note of our important Consumer Alert to successfully stay on guard against fraud and protect their loved ones from additional financial hardship,” said Schuette.
“We have secured more than $1.6 million in restitution for Michigan victims of mortgage foreclosure-related crimes to help them begin to rebuild their lives,” said Schuette. “We will continue to aggressively investigate allegations of criminal misconduct by mortgage foreclosure scammers and advocate for Michigan homeowners.”