When the Southern Nevada - including Southern Highlands, Summerlin, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Anthem, Mountains Edge and Green Valley - housing market tripped into a free fall it was a foregone conclusion on many lips that scam artists would soon surface to try take advantage of the situation. And have they ever. What the local media has reported on the magnitude of the issue is undoubtedly only a tip of the iceberg. This, of course, isn't only a Las Vegas problem either, it covers the whole nation.
The scam artists generally employ a few basic practices that have all too often worked on unsuspecting homeowners facing mortgage payment challenges. One of them is the promise that the shady operator guarantees to put a halt to a foreclosure or to modify a home loan. Another is where he requests a large advance fee. They also like to ask for the borrower to stop paying the mortgage lender and send the payments to them instead. All of these are red flag events for homeowners thinking about foreclosure rescue or home loan modification.
In addition, some operators will brag about their excellent track record and pledge to make refunds in case they fail to deliver the goods. And then there are those who say they are affiliated with the government or the mortgage company in question, when they are not. It's important to check on the legitimacy of any foreclosure rescue shop or home loan modifier before engaging them.
Because mortgage-related scams just continue gaining speed the FTC, or Federal Trade Commission, has launched a new program to attempt to slow things down. It's called Operation Stolen Hope. It was recently announced in a press conference held in Las Vegas, one of the cities most affected by the housing collapse where many hustlers have set up shop to ply their slimy trade. FTC is actually joining forces with at least 25 state attorneys general to thwart these deceptive, fraudulent and unfair business practices the scammers like to pull off.
Operation Stolen Hope must be the result of ever increasing amount of mortgage borrower complaints. What FTC has done so far obviously hasn't been enough. Sometimes people wonder why regulators have to receive thousands of complaints before they start taking their mandate seriously. Why not do their job right from the get-go so there won't be that many disgruntled mortgage borrowers to make those breathless phone calls? Anyway, if FTC has the resources, organization and will it can make a big difference on the struggling homeowners' behalf.