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Scam of the Week: Legit company falsely used as bait for mortgage fraud

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Be very wary about a new mortgage modification scam that’s targeting New Mexico homeowners.

The state Attorney General’s Office says callers falsely claim to be with Nationstar, a legitimate mortgage company, and they promise a loan modification after money is sent to an attorney in Florida.

The calls can appear to come from any area code. Callers are asking New Mexicans to wire “money upwards of $1,200, money that they may never get back,” the office said in a news release.

“Calls and offers like these are scams and New Mexico homeowners need to be vigilant, because once you wire that money you may never get it back,” said Attorney General Balderas

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People who are having trouble paying mortgages or who are facing foreclosure can go to www.keepyourhomenewmexico.org or call 1-800-220-0350.

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A recent Facebook scam that involves a fake freebie brings some valuable lessons about what can happen when you “like” something.

It’s called “like-farming,” and it happens when scammers post a story on Facebook for the sheer purpose of generating likes and shares.

The more likes and shares a post collects, the better the odds that it will show up in Facebook users’ news feeds. And that gives those running a scam a wider audience and better odds of tricking someone into giving up personal information and clicking on a malicious download.

In some cases, suspicious posts are emotional and meant to grab your attention, such as tales of supposedly sick children or requests for donations to a seemingly worthy cause. (This, in and of itself, is an affront because there are legitimate appeals for money to real causes and organizations.)

Or the initial post can be completely innocent, without any content fabrication. What they’re after is getting you to like, comment or share to help spread the word.

Then, they go back into the post after it’s received the requisite likes to pursue their nefarious plot. They can directly spam the Facebook users who clicked a like, or sell the person’s personal and contact information to other scammers.

The main prevention involves being extremely careful about what you like and/or share on Facebook. For example:

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• Don’t automatically hit the “like” button. Notice where the post is coming from. “If it’s from someone you don’t recognize, it could be a friend of a friend or it could be a complete stranger. It would be good to find out,” according to Kim Komando, who hosts a website about technology.

• If the post promises anything in exchange for liking or sharing it, this is a red flag that you’re looking at a scam. Another sign is feeling somehow pressured into liking.

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A tip regarding international travel scams: Be on guard when you’re searching for information online in preparation for your trip.

The Federal Trade Commission warns that official-looking websites are offering travel documents, information and services. But they’re not legitimate, and they can put your money and personal information at risk.

The FTC says one case involved a look-alike site that displayed pictures, application forms and frequently asked questions copied from the official government site. (The agency did not name the country.) The fake site offered visa applications for high fees and other services that were free on the real site.

To avoid all this, get information about international travel, visa and passports from the U.S. Department of State at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html. From there, you can type in a country and get links to consulates and embassies, as well as other important travel information.

Ellen Marks is assistant business editor at the Albuquerque Journal. Contact her at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210​.

 


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