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By John R. Merlino Jr. Esq.
Founding Attorney

People fall behind in their mortgage payments for many reasons. Staten Island homeowners who are in mortgage default may feel desperate to find a financial solution that allows them to keep their property. The fear of losing a family home or an investment property that provides vital income can make people vulnerable to foreclosure scams. 

Scammers use a variety of different methods to convince homeowners to pay them for mortgage services. These services offer false promises to lower mortgage payments or stop the foreclosure process. However, these “miracle” promises end up costing victims even more money and making their financial situation worse in the long run. 

If you are behind in mortgage payments or if foreclosure procedures have already begun, don’t let yourself be conned. Speak with a qualified Staten Island Real Estate Attorney for advice you can trust. Avoid any company or individual who guarantees they can save your home or claims to have a direct connection to your mortgage provider. 

Rent-to-Buy and Leaseback Schemes

A rent-to-buy or leaseback scheme starts with a scammer suggesting that you should transfer your property title to them. This scam promises that you can continue to live in your home while paying low rent and then eventually buy the home back with favorable terms. 

The truth is, the scammer has no intention of selling you back your home, and once they have legal ownership, there may be nothing you can do about it. 

Rescue and Refinance Frauds

Depending on your unique situation, it may be possible to avoid foreclosure. However, any “guarantee” to save your home from foreclosure is a red flag. Rescue and refinance frauds typically start with this type of overly optimistic promise. 

In this scam, a con artist will offer to act as an intermediary between you and the bank. They will try to convince you to make mortgage payments directly to them as they negotiate a repayment plan on your behalf. 

Bankruptcy Scam

Filing bankruptcy is not a solution to foreclosure. Filing may delay the process, but a lender will retain the right to foreclose regardless of bankruptcy. Scam artists may offer to help you file bankruptcy for a fee in order to “save” your home. Keep in mind that bankruptcy will not prevent foreclosure and has long-lasting financial consequences. 

Fake Government Programs

Some scam artists are highly sophisticated. They can create realistic websites that look like authentic government sites established to help homeowners in need. Look out for fake programs that use words and phrases that are similar to real government programs, such as “TARP” or “stimulus.”

Debt-Elimination Scam

You know the saying: “When something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” This wise adage applies to schemers who promise they can eliminate your debt and free you from the obligation of paying back your mortgage. There are no secret laws or tricks that will help you escape your financial obligation to a bank. 

Protect Yourself From Mortgage Scams

Senior citizens are often the victims of mortgage cons, but elders aren’t the only ones who can be persuaded by an experienced scammer. Offers of free appraisals or help with financial restructuring are warning signs that someone may be trying to take your home and your money. 

A knowledgeable Staten Island real estate attorney with Merlino & Gonzalez can provide you with reliable advice if you are facing foreclosure. Don’t let scammers promising false hope take advantage of your difficult situation. Contact Merlino & Gonzalez to schedule a free consultation today.

About the Author
John is a fierce advocate and the office guru for problem-solving and brainstorming. He guides clients through every stage of a real estate transaction from offer to contract, navigating through nerve-shattering home inspection and title clearance concerns, maintaining constant contact with lenders, conducting the actual closing, and continuing to advise clients with regard to any post-closing concerns.  John brings a practical and fair-minded approach to the process which has earned him the respect of his clients and peers.