New York City homeowners continue to recover from the foreclosure crisis, but scammers remain a persistent and worrisome roadblock. Scammers (like the one profiled in this New York Times article) make promises to homeowners they can’t possibly keep, like guaranteeing a refinance, in order to trick people into paying for services up-front. That’s against the law in New York State.

Loan Scam Activity in New York City (2013)With no intent to follow through and do the work, scammers often disappear after making what they can off a homeowner in need. At the end of the day, that means one more New Yorker out thousands of dollars and even further in foreclosure.

At the Center, one of the ways we track scams is by asking callers to our call center if they’ve been victims of a scam. Based on an analysis of these calls, we’ve found that scammers are most active in East Brooklyn and Southeast Queens.

This year, we’re redoubling our efforts to stop loan scammers. Our first step is hearing directly from our clients about their experiences. This week, we kicked off a series of focus groups designed to identify additional interventions that we can use to stop scammers. We’ll be meeting with homeowners in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx to discuss their experiences and we’ll use their feedback to develop more outreach materials and new scam prevention tools.

Let’s work together to stop scammers in New York City. If you believe you or someone you know has been the target of a mortgage-related scam, call 311 and ask for the Center for NYC Neighborhoods or call us directly at 646-786-0888. Help is free.