Online Mortgage Scams Shut Down, Search Engines Cut Ties

Dozens of mortgage modification scams through Web banners and ads on Yahoo! and Bing have been shut down by the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) as of Monday. An ongoing investigation conducted by SIGTARP revealed hundreds of advertisers and agents associated with 125 alleged scams targeting homeowners, and had already shut down similar online scams advertised on Google as of last week.

“Many homeowners who have fallen prey to these scams were enticed by Web banner ads and online search advertisements that promised, for a fee, to help lower mortgage payments,” said Christy Romero, Deputy Special Inspector General for SIGTARP. “SIGTARP will investigate and hold accountable criminals who defraud homeowners in connection with HAMP, while doing everything we can to stop homeowners from becoming victims in the first place.”

The alleged scams targeted distressed homeowners by offering an exchange of a fee for false promises of lowering the homeowner’s mortgage through TARP’s housing program known as the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

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Microsoft suspended 400 advertising relationships through Bing and Yahoo! and Google suspended more than 500 that are believed to be associated with the scams, according to SIGTARP.

The scams most commonly asked homeowners for an upfront fee and told the homeowners to stop making mortgage payments and to cease contact with their lenders. In some instances, the sites claimed to be affiliated with the U.S. government, SIGTARP reported.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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