The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), working in conjunction with Google, has shut down 85 alleged online mortgage modification scams that prey on vulnerable homeowners through Web banners and other Web advertisements.
SIGTARP, through an investigative inquiry, notified Google of a list of websites alleged to be fraudulently claiming to assist homeowners with the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). In some instances, the websites claimed to be affiliated with the U.S. government through the use of a government seal or name similar to a government agency. As a result of the investigation, Google has suspended advertising relationships with more than 500 Internet advertisers and agents associated with the 85 alleged online mortgage fraud schemes and related deceptive advertising.
‘The first place many homeowners turn for help in lowering their mortgage is the Internet through online search engines, and that's precisely where they are being taken advantage of and targeted,’ says Christy Romero, deputy special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. ‘Web ads that offer a false sense of hope may not be legitimate and can end up costing homeowners their home. SIGTARP is diligently working on every level to stop these frauds, to protect homeowners from being victimized, and to hold accountable criminals who defraud homeowners in connection with HAMP and other TARP programs.’