SIGTARP nets 85 alleged online mod scams
A federal investigation netted and shut down 85 alleged online scams falsely offering mortgage modifications for a fee, according to a release Wednesday from the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The online ads claimed to lower mortgage interest rates and monthly payments through the Home Affordable Modification Program. SIGTARP sent the list of websites to Google (GOOG), which then suspended relationships with more than 500 advertisers and agents associated with the websites. Most of the websites told homeowners to stop paying their mortgage and end contact with their lender, and instead pay a fee to the website. "The first place many homeowners turn for help in lowering their mortgage is the Internet," said Christy Romero, deputy special inspector general for TARP. "Web ads that offer a false sense of hope may not be legitimate and can end up costing homeowners their home." Other alleged schemes also diverted mortgage payments to scammers, transferred property deeds or disclosed private financial information. Some websites operated under the guise of the federal government, according to the release. Write to Andrew Scoggin. Follow him on Twitter @ascoggin.