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Scam watch: Mortgage relief, time shares, suspicious email

April 08, 2012|By Stuart Pfeifer
  • Consumers should be careful when dealing with loan-modification companies. Pay nothing upfront, experts say.
Consumers should be careful when dealing with loan-modification companies.… (Don Ryan / Associated Press )

Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.

Mortgage relief – One of the most common scams in recent years has involved companies that promise to provide debt relief to homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgages. Consumers are advised never to pay upfront fees to debt relief firms. Instead, fees should be paid only after the firm is able to reduce monthly payments or provide other favorable results. The Federal Trade Commission recently obtained a $3.9-million judgment against three firms that charged homeowners as much as $4,000 with promises of reducing mortgage payments and interest rates but then failed to provide such services.

Time-share properties – There’s no shortage of scams in the time-share business. The Better Business Bureau is now warning people to avoid doing business with a company called Wade Capital Management, which says it serves as a “vacation ownership closing company.” The company has attempted to get consumers to wire money to an account in Mexico as a “transfer commission fee” involving the sale of a time-share property.  The BBB said consumers should never wire money to people they don’t know. “Wiring money is like handing over cash; once the transaction is complete, it is irretrievable.”

Suspicious email – If you’ve received a suspicious email, you can report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which monitors Internet crime and refers cases to appropriate law enforcement agencies. A common threat involves emails that inform recipients they’ve won a lottery or prize. Once contact is initiated, the recipient is told he’ll need to pay the taxes upfront before he can receive the prize. But after the payment is sent, the prize money does not arrive. Here’s an email that a Times reporter recently referred to the Internet Crime Complaint Center: “On behalf of the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) in affiliation with Western Union Campaign for Global Economic Crisis eradication, we wish to notify you that your E-mail Address has won the sum of (1.8 Million Dollars). For security reasons and to avoid misappropriation of funds, proper verifications must be carried out before the fund is transferred. We require the details below for verification so that the transfer can be carried out. Your name, your country, tel, age, sex, occupation. Send the above details to us via the email addresses stated below. Thanks and God Bless.”

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