Temas Especiales

17 de Jan de 2021

Nacional

Beware the consultant asking for cash

PANAMA. Yesterday we carried a story on how ponzi operators work. But there are others out there, who work on unsuspecting and gullibl...

PANAMA. Yesterday we carried a story on how ponzi operators work. But there are others out there, who work on unsuspecting and gullible targets ready to help with “problems” from real estate to dealing with government departments.

They are often backed by fancy letterhead, and business cards. But they have one thing in common, they want cash up front. So beware the “consultant” who comes promising help with a mortgage or getting title to land, and wants a healthy sum up front.

Beware the advisor working with a cell phone from his or her car, who never invites you to his office, or has a desk in a corner of another business.

Ask friends and acquaintances for the names of people who have performed well for them within a reasonable time frame.

This week we were alerted to a US marketing expert, with a local shared office, who has extracted $15,000 from an expat business in Panama and produced nothing. The money was transferred to a Miami bank, and after months of trying, and building up legal fees they have been unable to get redress.

In another case a lawyer claimed to have “government connections”. He took a healthy fee up front, and did nothing. Whenever the client visited his office, he was “unavailable.”

If you know of similar schemes, contact The Panama Star.

In the US top federal and state officials on Monday announced a broad crackdown on mortgage modification scams, accusing "criminal actors" of preying on desperate borrowers caught up in the nation's housing crisis.

US Government officials say scammers are seeking to take advantage of borrowers in danger of default by charging them up front fees of $1,000 to $3,000 for help with loan modifications that rarely, if ever, pay off.

In Panama, as increasing numbers of mortgages are falling behind in Panama, the predators are already licking their lips.

The frauds often involve companies with official-sounding names designed to make borrowers think they are using the Obama administration's efforts to help modify or refinance 7 million to 9 million mortgages.

Officials say such operations almost always are fraudulent, and that help is available for free from government-approved housing counselors.

"These predatory scams callously rob Americans of their savings and potentially their homes," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said. "We will shut down fraudulent companies more quickly than before."

Attorney General Eric Holder says the FBI is investigating about 2,100 mortgage fraud cases, a 400 percent increase from five years ago.

"If you discriminate against borrowers or prey on vulnerable homeowners with fraudulent mortgage schemes, we will find you, and we will punish you," Holder said.