The Department of Veterans Affairs and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are warning consumers about a new scam targeting veterans with VA guaranteed home loans.
According to a news release, there has been a recent jump in scams targeting veterans with home loans. The scammers usually pretend to be affiliated with the government or a mortgage company and attempt to scam veterans out of money by some new and novel methods, along with some techniques that have been around for years, albeit with either a new COVID-19 related twist or new technology that makes it easier for the scammers to conceal their identity.
The fraudsters try to get veterans to refinance their homes, agree to loan modifications or even start sending their mortgage payments to a new address, according to the release.
With the recent financial crisis resulting from the COVID-19 epidemic, fraudsters are also trying to convince veterans that their homes are facing foreclosure or they owe late fees.
Some veterans have reported phone calls that appear to come from the local VA office, with the caller telling the veteran their mortgage has been transferred to a new servicer. As a result of this supposed mortgage transfer, the veteran now owes months’ worth of mortgage payments, the fraudster claims. To avoid foreclosure, the veteran is told they must make several hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of back payments to the new mortgage holder at a new address, usually through a money order or gift cards. These methods of payment cannot be traced.
Other calls and letters promise unusually low interest rates for refinancing a mortgage, but require the veteran to pay several fees upfront, before receiving any services. Once the veteran pays the fees, the “mortgage company” either denies the application or ceases communications with the veteran, the release states.
Other new scams cite existing federal mortgage assistance programs related to COVID-19 financial relief initiatives. The scammers tell homeowners that the veteran either must turn over the title to their property or sign confusing paperwork without reviewing it, claiming the relief programs are about to end and things must be done quickly.
As usual, the scammers play upon fear and confusion and rapidly disappear once they get what they seek — your money.
The Consumer Financial Protection Board warns that if you suspect a scam, you should first contact the VA or your mortgage lender to determine whether the offer is real. If it is not, you should cease all communications with the scammer and contact your State Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission so that they hopefully can bring the bad actors to justice.
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