Offering to perform a mortgage auditThe Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against Sameer Lakhany of Santa Ana, Calif., and companies he controlled, including the Precision Law Center, for charging homeowners for a "forensic loan audit."
Reilly Dolan, assistant director for financial practices for the FTC, says, "A salesperson would call the homeowners and say they were going to audit their mortgage documents and use the violations they could find to force their lender to approve a loan modification. The scammers would tell people that they found violations 90 percent of the time."
Dolan says these types of scams typically ask for $1,000 to $5,000 from the homeowners, with an average fee of $3,000.
Precision Law Center employees claimed to be HUD-approved housing counselors with qualifications to do the loan audits, which they said would be the only part of the process that wasn't free.
The FTC says that more than $1 million was collected by the Precision Law Center.
Barbara Floyd Jones, program manager for foreclosure prevention efforts for NeighborWorks America, says the paperwork for a loan audit can look legitimate, but she says consumers can avoid scams by proactively contacting a local HUD-approved housing counselor through the HUD website.