SIGTARP Expands Search Engine Scam Probe

SIGTARP Expands Search Engine Scam Probe The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) renewed its focus on Internet-based mortgage modification scams by targeting Web banners and other Web advertisements on the Yahoo! and Bing search engines.

According to SIGTARP, Microsoft – which founded Bing and whose technology powers Yahoo! Search – has suspended advertising relationships with more than 400 Internet advertisers and agents associated with the alleged online mortgage fraud schemes and related deceptive advertising. Microsoft has also blocked all future advertising associated with the scams identified by SIGTARP.

This expanded probe follows last week's announcement that SIGTARP shut down similar online mortgage modification scams advertised on Google. Between the three search engines, SIGTARP has shut down 125 of these alleged scams during the past week.

‘Many homeowners who have fallen prey to these scams were enticed by Web banner ads and online search advertisements that promised, for a fee, to help lower mortgage payments,’ says Christy Romero, deputy special inspector general for SIGTARP. ‘SIGTARP's work in cutting off these Internet advertisements will immediately and dramatically decrease the scope and scale of these scams by limiting their ability to seek out and victimize struggling homeowners. SIGTARP will investigate and hold accountable criminals who defraud homeowners in connection with [the Home Affordability Modification Program], while doing everything we can to stop homeowners from becoming victims in the first place.’

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