POSTED: Monday, April 6, 2009 - 5:20pm
UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:58pm
As thousands across the country continue to fight to keep their homes from foreclosure, a new wave of criminals is waiting to take advantage of those struggling to survive.
Mortgage rescue scams and loan modification fraud is at an all time high.
On Monday, several federal agencies announced a new plan targeting those praying on the vulnerable families.
Federal agents have investigated more cases of fraud against homeowners in the first quarter of this year than all of last year.
"American homeowners have been through enough over the past two years. The last thing they need now is to be taken advantage of as they try to hold on to their homes," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
On Monday, Secretary Geithner announced a multi-agency initiative to track down and take out those running mortgage rescue scams across the country.
"The unscrupulous actions of individuals and companies who exploit the misfortune of others is despicable, it's immoral, and it's also illegal," said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Officials stress, there is free help through the federal government for those fighting to keep their homes.
But for the Levert family, the focus of investigators and promise of assistance comes too late.
"It's just really disheartening. It's really disheartening," said former homeowner William Levert.
They lost $30,000 to the con, their home and a piece of their heart.
"That's where our daughter crawled for the first time, took the first step, learned to ride a bike and, you know, made their best friends," said Nichole Levert.
It's the toll of this crime that can't be measured by money and the main reason federal agents say they are stepping up their enforcement effort.
If you need help or think you have been the victim of mortgage fraud you can log on to the federal governments website: www.makinghomeaffordable.gov . Or call the hope hotline 1-888-995-hope (4673).