Common Types of – REAL ESTATE FRAUD

Real Estate Fraud

The dream of home ownership remains one of the most important goals for many people. Unfortunately, real estate scams can steal these dreams and have a serious, long-lasting impact on the victims.

Anyone can become a victim to real estate fraud. Below are examples of the most common types of real estate fraud. Keep in mind there may be completely legitimate real estate transactions with similar circumstances as the scams listed below.

Foreclosure Rescue: These “rescue companies” tell desperate mortgage holders that they can save their home if the borrowers enact a “temporary” title transfer to the company. The companies promise the borrower can stay in the home and pay rent during the temporary title transfer time. The company will claim this is called a “leaseback.”

Often these “rescue companies” sell the homes once they obtain title from the real owner. As a “leaseback”, these companies usually only pay the owner a minimum amount, that rarely reflects what the owner would have received if they had sold the property on the market. In the meantime, the owners are on the hook for the original mortgage payments on their home.

Mortgage Elimination: These programs convince borrowers there are loopholes that will allow the borrowers to escape their mortgage, and these companies charge a premium for this so-called “service.”

Equity Skimming: Equity skimming happens when a “buyer” wants to take out a large mortgage and convinces the seller to re-list the house for an extraordinarily high amount. In these situations, the buyer will take out the larger mortgage, pay the seller the original asking price for the house, and disappear with the balance of the loaned funds. The house can end up in foreclosure because of this scam.

Equity Fraud: The criminal in this situation actually obtains the personal information of the victim and uses this information on mortgage or loan origination documents. In addition, the criminal forges the victim’s name on the deed and steals the equity from the property involved.

Fraudulent Loan Origination: This happens when real estate professionals promise potential home buyers they can qualify for mortgages that are more than the buyers’ ability to repay. Then they help unqualified buyers get the money necessary to purchase a home with an FHA– insured mortgage by falsifying official documents to assist home buyers in obtaining these properties.

Land Fraud: In this situation, companies obtain information about potential home buyers and sellers from mailing/call lists. Through a direct mail/telemarketing campaign, the companies then promise huge profits or gifts if the sellers agree to buy land from the company. These companies sometimes sell unimproved, recently purchased lots that they purchased for $1000 or $2000 to unsuspecting buyers for up to $50,000.

Rental Fraud: Rental fraud occurs when a person files false “satisfaction of loan” documents with the local court. To file this paperwork, the renter has to forge the owner’s signature, the bank officers’ signatures, and bank seals. This document shows no encumbrances on the home, and the criminal is free to take out new loans on the property.

Source: Los Angeles County Office of the Assessor.

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