Home Banking & Finance Housing groups get grants to fight foreclosure scams

Housing groups get grants to fight foreclosure scams

Two Hudson Valley fair housing groups have received grants to combat foreclosure scams.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman awarded $50,000 to Westchester Residential Opportunities Inc. in White Plains and Mount Vernon, and $25,000 to Rockland Housing Action Coalition Inc. in New City.

The grants are part of $350,000 given to housing organizations in nine places where foreclosure scams are prevalent.

In the typical scam, the swindler promises to save a home from foreclosure by negotiating lower mortgage payments or a reduction in loan principal. Fees are charged upfront, but the swindler doesn’t negotiate with the bank or mortgage servicer.

By failing to provide the service, the homeowner is put at greater risk of foreclosure. In some cases, the attorney general said, the scammer convinces the homeowner to sign over title to the house.

New Yorkers have submitted more than 2,700 complaints about foreclosure scams costing $8.25 million in losses, from 2010 to 2014, the attorney general said in a press release.

Schneiderman set up the Foreclosure Rescue Scam Prevention Initiative to identify people and communities that are most likely to be victimized.

The program uses a predictive model built by Civis Analytics. It uses demographics, socioeconomic data, geographic variables, property values and length of residence to identify the people most vulnerable to foreclosure scams. The housing organizations then offer education and referral services to the target population.

Funding for the program comes from $5.5 billion in settlements in civil litigation with banks that were responsible for misconduct in the residential mortgage-backed securities market.

The attorney general also has set up a tip line on foreclosure scams at AGScamHelp.com and at 855-466-3456.

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