Watch out for latest scam
State Attorney Phil Archer
SENIOR LIFE Photo
Scammers continue to prey on seniors. The latest scam involves home equity conversion mortgages.
Home equity conversion mortgages
(HECMs) are loans that allow homeowners, 62 and older, to convert part of the equity in their homes into cash without having to sell the house.
In Florida, HECM fraud is common and often involves convincing a senior to pay for fictional costly repairs, reverse mortgage counseling fees, “high profit” insurance policies, “can’t miss” investments, and finder fees.
Tactics also include offering free homes, delaying Social Security payments, or refinancing assistance, all designed to steal equity or the home itself. Scammers use fronts such as church events, websites, billboards, mailers, phone calls and emails to gain access to their victims.
In a local case, a victim learned she was removed from the ownership of her home when a quit claim deed had been filed by the HECM lender. Removing her increased the amount however, when the older spouse died, the lender demanded that the loan be repaid immediately to avoid foreclosure. That forced her out of the home.
Avoid reverse mortgage scams:
• Don’t respond to unsolicited advertisements.
• Don’t sign anything that you do not fully understand.
• Don’t sign a power of attorney.
• Don’t accept payment from individuals for a home you did not purchase.
• Only speak with a certified HUD reverse mortgage counselor.