When it comes to mortgage fraud, there are not many new ways to separate lenders and homeowners from their money. But there are sometimes new twists to old favorites.In a recent case of equity skimming, federal investigator Herschell Harvell Jr. found a group of 10-12 people who were running a foreclosure rescue scam. In an effort to save his home, and in return for the promise that the "investor gang" would bring his delinquent loan current, the troubled owner put all their names on the title and then paid the group rent while he continued to live in the property. Of course, the group didn't make any payments, but it did collect rent from the owner, Mr. Harvell told SourceMedia's Fraud and Risk Conference in Las Vegas Monday. Each time the lender started foreclosure proceedings, one of the group of con men filed for bankruptcy, according to Mr. Harvell, the assistant special agent in charge in the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of the Inspector General. And the day before a foreclosure hearing was scheduled, one con man would file for bankruptcy, delaying the proceedings. Then, the day before a hearing was scheduled, the con man would drop his bankruptcy claim and another one would file a new proceeding. The switch continued time and time again, according to the HUD official, while the owner went blindly along making his "rent" payments to the gang of charlatans. Mr. Harvell, who has successfully investigated numerous white-collar cases during his 11-year career at HUD, told the conference that despite lenders' best efforts to stop fraud, con men "continue to search for weaknesses in the system and take advantage of them."

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the mortgage industry

30-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the mortgage industry