Don’t Be a Victim of Mortgage Fraud

Posted on December 5, 2011



Former FBI agent Jeff Lanza speaks and writes about preventing fraud

We were excited to have Jeff Lanza on our Truth in Lending show a few weeks ago. This guy knows his stuff. He’s passionate about preventing identity theft and cyber fraud, and it shows. That’s why he’s been featured on Fox National News, Larry King Live, CNN, The Today Show and of course, the Truth in Lending show, among others. He’s a former FBI Special agent and teaches people how to minimize risk when it comes to crisis and fraud. Plus, he’s written a new book, ” “Pistols to Press”, which is available on the Lanza Group website.

For our listeners tuning in for advice about home ownership, Jeff gave some great ways to avoid mortgage fraud – or even know if you’re a victim.

Indications that You’re Dealing with Mortgage Fraud

Jeff said that mortgage fraud doesn’t just mean someone else using your name and SSN on their papers – it can come from several different directions. Especially for those refinancing a mortgage, or getting into a home loan, be on the lookout for:

  • Inflated Appraisals
  • Exclusive Use of an Appraiser
  • Higher Than Customary Fees
  • Request to Sign Blank Application Forms
  • Falsifications on Loan Application
  • Fake Supporting Documentation
  • Short Term Investments with Guaranteed Repurchase
  • Bonuses Paid for Fee Based Services
  • Increased Commission or Bonuses for Brokers or Appraisers

What we appreciated about Jeff’s list was that it shows mortgage fraud doesn’t just come from the typical “bad guys in masks” that we often picture. Fraud can come from a Realtor, appraiser or even a broker who’s working the system to make more money, illegally. We piggy-back Jeff’s advice and say to make sure you know your mortgage lender and real estate agent, and have a trusting, open relationship. And if something seems fishy, make sure to get a second opinion from another trusted professional. You can always call the Truth in Lending show, too, if something doesn’t seem right.

Ways to Avoid Mortgage Fraud

In addition to indicators of mortgage fraud, Jeff gave our listeners advice for avoiding this fraud. Here’s his top pointers for people who want to steer clear of fraud all-together (that means all of us, right?)

  • Be wary of strangers and unsolicited contacts, as well as high-pressure sales techniques.
  • Look at written information, to include recent comparable sales in the area, and other documents, such as tax assessments, to verify the value of the property.
  • Understand what you are signing and agreeing to. If you do not understand, re-read the documents, or seek assistance from an attorney.
  • Make sure the name on your application matches the name on your identification.
  • Review the title history to determine if the property has been sold multiple times within a short period. It could mean that this property has been “flipped” and the value falsely inflated.
  • Know and understand the terms of your mortgage. Check your information against the information in the loan documents to ensure they are accurate and complete.
  • Never sign any loan documents that contain blanks. This leaves you vulnerable to fraud.
  • Use a professional Real Estate Agent and a Professional Title Company. Also, do diligence on the company who is conducting your appraisal.  Make sure they are valid professionals.

Thanks again, Jeff, for joining our show. We appreciate your advise and passion for keeping our listeners safe and fraud-free!

Posted in: Mortgage Fraud