This week, as part of our scam awareness outreach campaign, we are mailing over 250,000 flyers and palm cards to elected officials and neighborhood organizations across the state.
Over the weekend, The New York Times published a major front-page lead story on deed theft scams that highlights the staggering losses at the hands of increasingly sophisticated criminal enterprises that seek to steal homes from vulnerable people. In Real Estate Shell Companies Scheme to Defraud Owners Out of Their Homes, the Times profiles several homeowners who were tricked into signing over the deed to their home, including Ozella Campbell, an elderly, disabled Bedford-Stuyvesant homeowner who lost her family’s brownstone and now lives in an unheated, illegally converted garage in Canarsie, Brooklyn.
The Times story cites our report on scams that target homeowners at risk of foreclosure, and quotes our long-term colleague and partner Jen Sinton, Director of the Foreclosure Prevention Program at South Brooklyn Legal Services, a Network Partner and a member of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s statewide Homeowner Protection Program.
As home values rapidly rise throughout New York City, deed theft scammers are targeting homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Like many scammers, they present themselves as offering home-saving solutions to families desperate for a way out of foreclosure, but end up taking their homes out from under them.
We applaud The New York Times for calling attention to the growing scourge of deed theft in our neighborhoods. At the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, combating scams targeted at vulnerable homeowners is a key priority. We detailed the impact of scams in our report, Who Can You Trust?, and we are partnering with the Office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on a concerted, large-scale outreach campaign to reach homeowners FIRST, before the scammers do.
Please join us in getting this message out to homeowners seeking help with their mortgage: be cautious, be careful. Don’t get scammed. Get help you can trust. The Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Program is a network of over 80 trusted nonprofits. Get connected to free help, report a scam, or check to see if the company you’re working with is government-vetted. Just go to AGScamHelp.com or call 855-HOME-456 (855-466-3456).