Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Detect, Prevent and Report Real Estate Fraud

If you know of anyone who is struggling to keep or has lost their home, you may want to read on. It’s easy to be vulnerable when under financial distress and there are people who will prey on those who are.

Enter “The Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team” (REFAT) which is a unique collaboration between the Ventura County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit and Ventura County real estate professionals. The knowledge and expertise of this volunteer team assists in identify various frauds taking place and stays on top of the ever changing tactics of scammers who seek to take advantage of Ventura County residents.

REFAT has done such an outstanding job of finding and prosecuting scammers that they’ve successfully prosecuted over a dozen people for real estate fraud over the last year. Other DA offices throughout California and further have begun doing the same and are using us a model.

Here’s some practical advice to prevent consumers from falling victim to a scam:
Never pay an upfront fee for loan modification services. These fees are illegal.
Watch out for promises or guarantees of any sort. No one can promise that a loan modification will be successful.

Anyone offering to take over your payments in exchange for a fee is likely committing fraud. Homes have been lost and life savings have been wiped out.
Contact a HUD-approved counseling agency that can provide loan modification services for free.

If you think you’ve been approached in this manner or have been a victim of a loan modification or other scam, report it to the DRE, the FTC, the Attorney General, and the Ventura County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit. We can’t do it without your help!

Check out the REFAT website – you’ll be surprised what’s been accomplished and they’ve only just begun. Or you can call their hotline at
(805) 751-5899.