BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The California Association of Realtors, the Bakersfield Association of Realtors and the Kern County District Attorney’s Office teamed up on Tuesday to launch a joint foreclosure fraud task force. They said the Bakersfield area has the fourth-highest mortgage fraud risk of any real estate market in the United States.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said LeFrancis Arnold, the president of CAR.
Arnold said Tuesday’s press conference was to warn Californians, and local Kern County residents in particular, about the rise in predators ripping off homeowners facing foreclosure.
“The homeowner is feeling so depressed, they’re feeling absolute pressure of the fact that may end up losing their home one day, and so here comes this guy, knocking on their door saying,’I can save your home, reduce your payments and maybe have them even reduce the principle balance of your mortgage,’ and so people now get an array of hope,” Arnold said.
Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green said that glimmer of false hope can come in various forms.
“They can be by virtue of phone calls, the Internet. People go looking for deals to help them with their mortgage issues through the Internet. Craigslist in particular, I’m aware of a couple of places where people have lost money, because they thought that would be helpful. And just through word of mouth,” said Green.
A few tips of advice to avoid getting scammed:
“They can go to the Better Business Bureau, they can check references, and they can see, you know, is this a legitimate offer, is this a legitimate business. They can call the Bakersfield Association of Realtors and ask, and that’s what I would suggest,” Green said.
“Never pay cash for promises of mortgage modification, never pay upfront fees for services, and never submit to pressure,” said Arnold.
Green urged those who have already been scammed to not be embarrassed and to contact the Kern County District Attorney’s Office immediately.
“Preying on these homeowners is not only wrong, it is a crime, and my office will do everything in it’s power to hold offenders responsible and to seek justice for these victims of crimes,” said Green.
If you believe you may have been a victim of a mortgage loan fraud scam, you are urged to contact (661) 868-2340 and ask for Deputy District Attorney Patrick Lee.