SIGTARP, Google Crackdown on Mortgage Modification Scams

Mortgage & Real Estate

The special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said Wednesday that it worked with Google to suspend advertising for a slew of alleged online mortgage modification scams.

The inspector general’s office shut down 85 of the alleged scams, which used websites and web-based advertisements that made false promises to help homeowners cut payments through the TARP-funded Home Affordable Modification Program, according to a press release.

The SIGTARP provided Google with a list of the websites, and the company subsequently suspended advertising relationships with more than 500 internet advertisers and agents associated with the schemes.  

The office said Google’s suspension of advertising relationships will have a dramatic impact on the ability of scam artists to find victims.

“The first place many homeowners turn for help in lowering their mortgage is the Internet through online search engines, and that’s precisely where they are being taken advantage of and targeted,” Christy Romero, the deputy special inspector general for TARP, said in the press release. “Web ads that offer a false sense of hope may not be legitimate and can end up costing homeowners their home.”

The most common scams included asking homeowners for an upfront fee and telling them to stop paying their mortgage and cease all contact with their lender.

They also included diverting mortgage payments to the scammers, transferring property deeds, and releasing personal information. Some also claimed to be affiliated with the federal government.

Daily Briefing | Wednesday, November 16, 2011

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