Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.
Beauty queen — Prosecutors in Santa Clara County have accused a former Mrs. Pakistan World of enticing desperate homeowners to pay her tens of thousands of dollars in a loan-modification scam. The Santa Clara County district attorney's office charged Saman Hasnain and her husband, Jawad, with 17 counts of grand theft, accusing them of bilking 17 homeowners, the San Jose Mercury News reported. In the scheme, prosecutors allege, Hasnain and her husband told homeowners that for an advance fee of at least $4,500, they would negotiate with banks to reduce the homeowners' mortgages and forgive overdue payments. But the couple did not negotiate with banks; rather, they absconded with the money and returned to Pakistan, prosecutors said. The newspaper said the couple had fled to Lahore, Pakistan. Consumer advocates recommend never paying an advance fee to a loan-modification firm. Instead, payments should be made only after loans have been modified.