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Foreclosure scam results in prison sentences for 3 men

For many Washington residents, owning their own home is the culmination of a long held goal. A great deal of pride comes from purchasing a home of one's own, and when that home is threatened due to financial pressures, the stress can be unbearable. Many homeowners will go to great lengths to keep their property out of foreclosure, and that leaves them vulnerable to many different types of scams.

An example lies in a scheme that led to prison sentences for three men. The group ran a company known as Star Reliable Mortgage, which promised distressed homeowners a chance to own their homes "free and clear." The company collected up-front fees, and in return filed fraudulent documents in county court offices. One approach was to file fictitious trust documents to make it appear that a different party was a trustee for a property. That slowed down foreclosures in a process known as "clouding the title" of a home.

Clients of Star Mortgage paid anywhere from $2,500 to $4,500 for those services, none of which provided any true assistance to homeowners. One of the men was convicted of conspiracy and mail fraud, and the other two pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. All received prison sentences ranging from more than two to nine years behind bars. They are also ordered to pay restitution to clients and to Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac.

This is just one example of the risk involved in signing on to foreclosure avoidance offers, and should be a cautionary tale to distressed homeowners in Washington. There are legitimate ways to stop a foreclosure and regain control over one's finances. Having to pay up-front fees should be a red flag, as should vague promises of eliminating a mortgage or slowing a foreclosure.  

Source: recorderonline.com, "Three sentenced in foreclosure rescue scam", July 26, 2017

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