The Department of Veterans Affairs and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are warning consumers of a new scam targeting veterans with VA guaranteed home loans.
According to a Press releaseThere has been a recent increase in scams targeting veterans with home loans. Scammers usually pretend to be affiliated with the government or a mortgage company and attempt to defraud veterans with money through new and innovative methods, as well as some techniques that have been around for years, albeit with either a new twist related to COVID-19 or a new technology that makes it easier for fraudsters to conceal their identities.
Scammers are trying to get veterans to refinance their homes, agree to loan modifications or even start sending their mortgage payments to a new address, the statement said.
With the recent financial crisis resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, fraudsters are also trying to convince veterans that their homes are threatened with foreclosure or that they owe late fees.
Some veterans have reported phone calls that appear to be from the local VA office, the caller informing the veteran that his mortgage has been transferred to a new duty officer. As a result of this alleged mortgage transfer, the veteran now owes months of mortgage payments, says the fraudster. To avoid foreclosure, the veteran is told to make several hundred or thousands of dollars in arrears to the new mortgage holder at a new address, usually by money order or cards- gifts. These payment methods are not traceable.
Other calls and letters promise unusually low mortgage refinancing interest rates, but require the veteran to pay several fees up front, before receiving services. After the veteran pays the fee, the “mortgage company” either denies the request or ceases communications with the veteran, the statement said.
Other new scams cite existing federal mortgage assistance programs linked to COVID-19 financial assistance initiatives. Scammers tell homeowners the veteran must either surrender title to his property or sign confusing documents without examining them, saying relief programs are about to end and things need to be done quickly.
As usual, scammers play on fear and confusion and quickly disappear once they get what they’re looking for – your money.
The Consumer Financial Protection Board warns that if you suspect a scam, you must first contact the VA or your mortgage lender to determine if the offer is real. If not, you should stop all communication with the scammer and contact your State Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission so they can hopefully bring the bad actors to justice.
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