ORMOND BEACH,Fla. - A new sophisticated scam is targeting homeowners who were turned down for loan modifications.
An Ormond Beach couple was scammed out of $3,500, and they're afraid they could lose their home.
Deanna Falls fears foreclosure since her husband, a Korean War
veteran, has critical health problems.
"If he has to move, he'll have to move into a nursing home, and I couldn't take that," she said.
So, the official-looking letter with the federal housing agency logo seemed to be a miracle.
"They said they were with HUD, and they wanted to help us get a modification," said Falls.
Later, they sent an approved loan modification that dropped Falls' payment, so she wired $3,500 in processing fees to what she thought was a HUD office.
What helped convince Falls was all her real Chase loan information that was on the offer, including the loan number, rate and balance.
But two weeks later, there was no modification and the number was disconnected.
Action 9 found the address is a private mail box in California.
"I think it was fraud, and I was really taken," said Falls.
The sophistication of the loan scheme is new. Experts think the same people behind Nigerian scams now use public documents to mine personal loans and create realistic documents.
"The homeowner thinks no one could know this but the bank or the government," said attorney Karen Wonsettler.
Action 9 found online complaints from victims across the country tied to the same HUD form. The 800 numbers kept changing.
Falls is now one step closer to the foreclosure she feared.
"I want him to be here until he passes, if at all possible," said Falls.
Action 9 helped Falls contact Credibility, a
nonprofit HUD counseling service that can help modify her loan at no cost.
Federal investigators have several cases but rarely get the money back.