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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Land Patent Scam Returns

An oldie but a goodie from the late 1980s is the so-called "land patent" fraud. This is where scam artists concoct a theory that the land under the house was never covered by the mortgage, and thus it can somehow be protected by purchasing (from the scam artists, of course) a totally bogus "land patent" that claims that the house is owned by some sovereign, such as an indian tribe or something.

The land patent scam went around in the late 1980s where farmers were desperate to try any theory to save the family farm. Scam artists took the opportunity to lighten the farmer's wallet of their final bucks before foreclosure.

New scams are actually rare: Most scams have been around at least once before, if not many times over the last half-dozen or so generations. The land patent scam is one of these, perpetually re-cycling itself with each real estate bust.

Read more about the latest version in this

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Texas Attorney General Fighting Foreclosure Fraud

The Texas Attorney General is also going after foreclosure fraud, see Article.

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Calfornia Takes Action Against Foreclosure Consultants

There are few things lower than taking advantage of somebody going through financially hard times, but scam artists have been known to prey upon desperation to fleece new victims. With foreclosures at epidemic levels, the State of California has acted against some of the worst of such slime, known as a "foreclosure consultant". These scammers take money from people who are being foreclosed on while providing nothing of value to the debtors.

California Civil Code Section 2945 provides:

(a) The Legislature finds and declares that homeowners whose residences are in foreclosure are subject to fraud, deception, harassment, and unfair dealing by foreclosure consultants from the time a Notice of Default is recorded …until [the property is foreclosed]. Foreclosure consultants represent that they can assist homeowners who have defaulted on obligations secured by their residences. These foreclosure consultants, however, often charge high fees, the payment of which is often secured by a deed of trust on the residence to be saved, and perform no service or essentially a worthless service. Homeowners, relying on the foreclosure consultants’ promises of help, take no other action, are diverted from lawful businesses which could render beneficial services, and often lose their homes, sometimes to the foreclosure consultants who purchase homes at a fraction of their value before the sale. Vulnerable homeowners are increasingly relying on the services of foreclosure consultants who advise the homeowner that the foreclosure consultant can obtain the remaining funds from the foreclosure sale if the homeowner executes an assignment of the surplus, a deed, or a power of attorney in favor of the foreclosure consultant. This results in the homeowner paying an exorbitant fee for a service when the homeowner could have obtained the remaining funds from the trustee’s sale from the trustee directly for minimal cost if the homeowner had consulted legal counsel or had sufficient time to receive notices from the trustee pursuant to
Section 2924j regarding how and where to make a claim for excess proceeds.

(b) The Legislature further finds and declares that foreclosure consultants have a significant impact on the economy of this state and on the welfare of its citizens.

(c) The intent and purposes of this article are the following:

(1) To require that foreclosure consultant service agreements be expressed in writing; to safeguard the public against deceit and financial hardship; to permit rescission of foreclosure consultation contracts; to prohibit representations that tend to mislead; and to encourage fair dealing in the rendition of foreclosure services.

(2) The provisions of this article shall be liberally construed to effectuate this intent and to achieve these purposes.

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