New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Monday announced an advertising campaign intended to help victims of foreclosure scams.
The ads will appear on 120 buses in Nassau County -- one of the areas where such scams are most prevalent, Schneiderman said during a news conference at a NICE bus depot in Garden City. The campaign also will appear in local newspapers in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, where many homeowners have complained of being scammed, he said.
In a typical scam, a company promises to help bail homeowners out of foreclosures but fails to provide services after collecting exorbitant fees, Schneiderman said.
New York scam victims lose an average of $4,183, about $900 more than the national average, Schneiderman said, adding that about 35 percent of all statewide foreclosures are on Long Island.
"The problem is growing," said Schneiderman, who was joined by elected officials including Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano. "They take victims and they re-victimize them. There's really nothing lower than that."
Ads direct consumers to a smartphone app, AGScamHelp, and to a website, AGHomeHelp.com, where homeowners will find information about free mortgage assistance, Schneiderman's aides said in a news release. Homeowners also may call the attorney general's foreclosure prevention hotline, 1-855-466-3456.
Statewide, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights has received more than 2,700 foreclosure scam complaints claiming at least $8.25 million in losses from March 2010 to September 2014, Schneiderman said. New York ranks behind only California and Florida in the number of complaints reported to the state Loan Modification Scam Database, he said.
Lynbrook resident Gayle Fortunato, who appeared at Schneiderman's news conference, said she and her family endured a six-month nightmare two years ago when she paid a California company about $6,000 to help her repay her mortgage after her bank foreclosed on her home.
Fortunato, a mother of two who works with special needs children, said the California company appeared to be legitimate when company officials asked for her bank information and other personal information, but they failed to help her repay her loan.
"They made it seem very legit," she said in an interview. "But when we talked to the bank, it turned out they did absolutely nothing."
She said her own lawyers later helped her save her home.