Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Arrests in ‘We Kill Your Mortgage’ Scheme; Seizure of Fraudulent Websites
– Tips for Homeowners
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the arrest of three suspects who have been charged in a mortgage fraud scheme targeting struggling Northern California homeowners. Six websites allegedly used by the suspects to advertise their scheme have been intercepted and redirected to a resource page on the California Attorney General’s website.
“Vulnerable California homeowners thought they were working to save their homes but were actually the victims of a fraudulent scheme,” Attorney General Harris said. “Today, it’s not enough to dismantle the brick-and-mortar aspect of a criminal operation; we need to shut down criminal operations in cyberspace as well.”
Through North Bay Trust Services, homeowners would often allegedly pay upfront fees of between $1,000 and $10,000 and sign a promissory note or new mortgage for a phony offer to eliminate their mortgage debt. Requiring up-front fees is illegal in California. The suspects would then allegedly record fraudulent documentation purporting to be the attorney for the homeowner’s actual lender and then relinquish the mortgage and record a new deed of trust in favor of North Bay Trust Services. The debt to the original lender was never actually satisfied.
The following six websites have had their service suspended pursuant to a court order at the request of the Attorney General Harris’s eCrime Unit:
These pages have been redirected to the California Attorney General’s website (http://oag.ca.gov/ecrime/doj-investigation) where individuals are able to file an online complaint form if they believe they may have been the victim of the scheme.
The arrests were a result of a joint investigation by the California Department of Justice Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, Northern California Computer Crimes Task Force, Marin County District Attorney’s office, Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office and Santa Rosa Police Department.
Below are tips for homeowners on how to avoid mortgage fraud schemes:
- Never pay an up-front fee for mortgage-related services. It is against California law and should be reported to the California Department of Justice.
- Be skeptical of third party phone or online solicitations.
- Do not give your personal financial information, such as your bank account number, social security number or the name of your loan servicer, to a solicitor. Your bank or loan servicer already has this information.
For free, trustworthy advice, on mortgage related matters call a HUD approved counselor – (888) 995-4673.
View the AG press release at http://oag.ca.gov/.