According to the Detroit Free Press a mortgage fraudster was recently sentenced to 30 to 99 years and ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution for a "faith-based" mortgage assistance scam that was marketed through Christian networks and ministries. According to court documents, the fraudster through his company, Freedom by Faith Ministries, promised to keep distressed borrowers out of foreclosure in exchange for a fee. According to prosecutors, from 2009 to 2013 the group collected money but didn't do anything for the borrowers.
What made this story different was the way the fraudster focused on his victims' Christian faith to win their trust and take their money. In recent years we've seen a number of fraudsters work their trade by exploiting members of a community they belong to, or pretend to belong to. The idea behind "affinity fraud" is to exploit the baseline trust that generally exists within an "affinity group" – i.e. a group defined by a common heritage, language, ethnicity, workplace, or circle of friends. What happened in Detroit is a sad reminder that no group is inherently safe from fraudsters, including devout and religious people.
It also reinforces the importance of these basic steps for distressed borrowers who need help with their mortgage and want to avoid fraud:
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