Families facing foreclosure fall prey to loan modification scams

NATIONAL (NBC) - The official looking letter claims to be from a company that wants to help you, but it just may be a trap.

The growth of loan modification scams is leaving victims across the country.

"We don't know what we're gonna do with the kids. Me and my husband, we don't know what we're gonna do, where we're gonna go," says fraud victim Patricia Kennedy.

The Kennedy family could be told to leave their house any day now. All that's left inside are four plastic chairs. They've sold everything just to stay afloat. The family literally has nothing but each other.

"Sometimes at school, I'm just sad but I just don't tell anybody. My brother is the only one I can tell that when we come home we have to sleep on the floor because we sold all our stuff," says Patricia's daughter, Bianca.

The Kennedys got a letter in the mail from their mortgage company saying they qualified for a loan modification. It would lower the monthly payment on their home by $1,500.

"We just believed it. We were happy the payments were gonna go down," says Patricia.

These are tough times and foreclosures are up. And many people are offering to help you lower your payments. Patricia called the number in the mailing right away.

"The worst thing is to take an unsolicited mailing or a phone call and respond to it. You think it's coming from your bank, but it's a trap," says California Attorney General Jerry Brown.

He says struggling homeowners are vulnerable to scam artists.

In fact, the California Department of Real Estate says it's investigating nearly 800 cases of loan modification fraud compared to just 10 last year.

"This is a serious problem. When people become desperate there are hustlers and con artists who exploit that situation," says Brown.

And in Kennedy's case, the people she thought were from her bank were really a group of scammers who were just pocketing the money.

Patricia says, "The money's in Mexico. They took everything over there and we're not gonna get a penny back."

Patricia Kennedy and her husband sent the bogus company about $14,000, and all the while they had no idea they were falling behind on their real payments.

By the time they found out about the scam, it was too late. Their house was already in foreclosure.