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Florida Still Hard Hit by Foreclosure Crisis – and Fraudulent Mortgage Schemes

Buying and selling real estate is a complicated process in the best of economic times. Throw in the mortgage crisis of the last several years and it’s no wonder so many homeowners are experiencing financial distress. Short sales, foreclosures, evictions, and on and on.

The problem is especially acute in Florida, which has had the nation’s highest foreclosure rate for the last 10 months straight, according to the latest figures from RealtyTrac. As the Palm Beach Post notes, that translates to nearly one in every 469 homes in the state in some form of repossession.

For many homeowners, there may be ways of getting out from under such financial pain, and a reputable real estate lawyer can help guide weary consumers through that process, working with lenders and analyzing the available options to allow property owners to remain in their homes. Unfortunately, the recent mortgage crisis has also given rise to unscrupulous agents who prey on vulnerable homeowners faced with losing their property.

Government Targets Fraudulent Mortgage Schemes

Just last month, Florida joined 15 other states along with the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to go after scam operations that seek out delinquent homeowners who’ve been threatened with foreclosure.

According to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, these fraudulent mortgage schemes promise to rescue underwater home buyers by restructuring their loans. The unsuspecting homeowners, desperate to stay in their homes, pay large upfront fees for the service but receive little or no help in avoiding foreclosure.

Broken Promises

State authorities recently announced that they’d gone after at least four companies they say were operating such schemes and taking advantage of hundreds of Floridians. One Pinellas County firm, for example, is accused of charging nearly $1,600 to assist troubled homeowners but never delivered on its promise to help modify repayment terms. Consumers then end up in worse shape because they’re at even greater risk of losing their property.

Palm Beach County businessman Guilfort Dieuvil was accused of going even further, offering to purchase homes outright, take over mortgage payments, and rent the property back to the homeowner. But as the Sun Sentinel reported, authorities found Dieuvil never paid off the delinquent mortgages, and the lenders continued foreclosure proceedings against the original home buyer.

Figures Show Some Improvement

Although Florida remains in the top spot nationally in terms of foreclosure rates, statistics show the number of foreclosure filings in the state has actually dropped 30 percent from a year ago.

Still, the effort to crackdown on fraudulent mortgage schemes is welcome news. Financially troubled homeowners shouldn’t have to worry about being further ripped off by scam artists looking to take advantage of those hardest hit by the mortgage crisis.

Our law practice utilizes a team of people to advise you of your options and rescue you from financial ruin. Depending on your unique circumstances, we can usually answer, defend and stop the foreclosure action long enough to at least explore the possibility of a home loan modification. To discuss your financial options, contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. with offices in Boca Raton and West Palm Beach.

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