Mortgage Securitization Scams Add to Homeowners’ Woes

Opinions divided on mortgage securitization audits — but some are worthless: Internet Scambusters #449

Fraudsters are using a documents-checking process known as a
mortgage securitization audit as a means of scamming
foreclosure-threatened homeowners.

Even when the process is legitimately carried out, the Federal
Trade Commission suggests it’s worthless. Some in the legal
profession disagree.

This week, we outline both sides of the debate, but, more
importantly, explain how to avoid an out-and-out scam.

Before we get started, we suggest you visit last week’s most
popular articles from our other websites:

Money Saving Microwave Tips and Tricks: Get a head start on Martha Stewart with these microwave tips and tricks, and save some money too!

Bad Credit Unsecured Credit Cards and How to Find Them: Here are my hard-earned tips and advice on bad credit unsecured credit cards, based on my personal experience.

The Ultimate Way to Find Dramatic Light for Your Outdoor Photos: Take your outdoor photos to new levels with the secret to dramatic light.

The Insidious Lyme Disease Bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi: Take a quick look at this tiny invader, the Lyme Disease bacterium, and why it’s so hard to treat.

Time to get going…


Mortgage Securitization Scams Add to Homeowners’ Woes


Masquerading under the impressive-sounding title of a
“mortgage securitization audit,” a new scam is bleeding
financially-pressured homeowners out of their dwindling funds.

Also sometimes simply called a “mortgage audit” or a “forensic
document review,” the service supposedly combs through all of
the documents relating to a mortgage, looking for mistakes or
even frauds in those documents.

The purported aim is either to help homeowners escape
foreclosure or to strengthen their case for a loan
modification, which will ease their repayments.

And that sounds like a pretty good idea, except for two
things:

  • Many so-called mortgage securitization companies actually do
    nothing at all but collect a couple thousand dollars from
    their victims.

    Or maybe, they’ll produce an impressive looking set of
    documents that are actually publicly available and have no
    legal value.

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer
    watchdog, has publicly denounced the use of mortgage audits,
    even if they’re done properly and legally.

It’s only fair to point out here that some lawyers disagree
with the FTC. They maintain that a securitization audit, done
at the right time and under the direction of an attorney, does
help to strengthen a homeowner’s hand in a foreclosure fight.

One can imagine this seeming to make sense, since any evidence
that a lender has behaved incorrectly would surely weigh on a
homeowner’s side.

But then, we’re not lawyers, so we can’t really argue that
one.

What’s certain is that those who say the practice is
worthwhile insist that you should hire a specialist attorney
first and let them decide what audit work needs to be done.

You shouldn’t take the opposite route, they warn, of starting
off with a firm or individual offering mortgage audits.

One lawyer argued in a recent blog that mortgage audits “are a
necessary and essential element to a successful foreclosure
defense” and that in every successful case he had handled a
mortgage audit and securitization analysis had been “at the
foundation of the success.”

But he adds: “Let me make it very clear that an audit is not
the first step to mounting an effective foreclosure defense.”
And he warns that many so-called mortgage auditors provide
inadmissible evidence while charging around $2,000 for their
service.

Moe Bedard, who founded the online consumer advocacy community
LoanSafe.org, takes an even stronger stance. He says a lot of
the firms offering mortgage audits are “reincarnated loan
modification frauds with a new name or they are out of work
mortgage brokers working from their kitchen tables.”

He adds: “These unlicensed auditors are charging from
$200-$7,000 for services which are essentially worthless to a
homeowner looking to stop foreclosure.

“More often than not, these firms are offering mortgage audits
with no attorney representation, which is the primary reason
why they can be of no help to homeowners.

“The homeowner is left with an expensive stack of papers that
are essentially worthless.”

(Note that we are not connected with loansafe; it is a
privately operated, advertisement-supported site.)

If you opt to go down the attorney route, you should, of
course, always check with your State Bar Association about the
status and standing of any law firm before you deal with them.

However, before you even do that, listen to what the FTC says.
In a consumer alert, Forensic Mortgage Loan Audit Scams: A New Twist on Foreclosure Rescue Fraud, the Commission warns that when “auditors” say you can use
their reports to avoid foreclosure or speed up loan
modification, nothing could be further from the truth.

“There is no evidence that forensic loan audits will help you
get a loan modification or any other foreclosure relief, even
if they’re conducted by a licensed, legitimate and trained
auditor, mortgage professional or lawyer,” says the
Commission.

And they note that although it’s possible under certain
circumstances to sue a lender because of mistakes in loan
documents, even winning the case doesn’t compel the lender to
modify the loan terms just to ease your payment terms.

The FTC points out that mortgage audit scams are just one of
many tricks that defaulters may encounter and suggests
avoiding any companies or individuals who:

  • Guarantee they can halt foreclosure.

  • Tell you not to get in touch with your lender or attorney
    and ask for money upfront before doing anything for you.

  • Suggest you lease your home under some sort of buy-back
    program.

  • Tell you to pay your mortgage to them instead of the lender.

  • Make a cash offer to buy your home at a price that doesn’t
    match current market rates.

  • Present you with documents that supposedly need to be
    signed immediately.

Instead, the best thing to do if you’re having trouble making
your mortgage payments is to contact the lender and try to
work out a new repayment plan. The nonprofit Home Ownership
Preservation Foundation, which is certified by the US
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has a help
hotline on 1-800-995-HOPE, or you can go to HOPE NOW.

Footnote: We’ve warned of this before, but we heard recently
about a mortgage scam in Nevada in which homeowners received a
letter saying their mortgage had been transferred to another
company to whom they should now make their payments.

It was simply untrue and, if the alleged operators hadn’t been
caught so quickly, no doubt many owners would have fallen for
this.

The action here is simple: If you get any kind of notification
about a change of mortgage owner, just get in touch with your
lender and check it out with them. Of course, don’t use any of
the contact information given in the letter!

One way or another, the fraudsters are out to make the most of
ignorance and upheaval in the house and mortgage market of the
past few years. Knowing about their tricks, like the mortgage
securitization scam can keep you one step ahead.

That’s a wrap for this issue. Wishing you a great week!