Hard Times Profiteers: Help HuffPost Investigative Fund Investigate 'Signs Of Deception' (VIDEO)
Huffington Post | Ben Protess, Amanda Zamora and Lagan Sebert First Posted: 02-19-10 12:04 PM | Updated: 02-19-10 12:17 PM
Drive through most any city in America and the offers will leap out at you: "Repair Your Credit!" "Modify Your Loan!" "Sell Your House Quick!"
The creators of these signs -- Hard Times Profiteers, as we at the Huffington Post Investigative Fund have dubbed them -- are moving to capitalize on the financial troubles of others. They are posting advertisements on walls, street lamps and bus shelters. The ads range from handwritten cardboard cutouts to printed plastic signs.
The Investigative Fund has begun collecting photographs of these ads in the Washington D.C. area. Now we'd like you, our readers, to help us find them across the country. Have you spotted suspicious signs in your neighborhood, or on your way to work? Snap a photo and send it to us, and we'll post it on our interactive map.
We're also still collecting the stories of people who have been victims of real estate schemes. We're looking for your tips and stories to help us investigate. Story continues below
As for the roadside signs, during the boom times, these magic-marker notices often advertised: "We buy houses." These days, with a record number of homeowners defaulting on loans, they are giving way to signs that pitch mortgage modification and foreclosure rescue schemes.
Law enforcement groups warn that companies charging upfront fees could be behind the ads. This practice is illegal in some states and the Federal Trade Commission has proposed outlawing it nationwide. Also, in many U.S. towns, it's illegal to post these so-called "bandit signs" without a permit.
James McNeill, a real estate agent in Mesa, Ariz., took to tearing down signs when he noticed that many didn't include business names or licensing logos, as required by local law. "I call and get a recording, usually an information gathering type -- leave your name, number, email, date of birth, do you own a home, and on at least one occasion asking for -- so that was a scam for sure," McNeill told the Investigative Fund.
#4. "RE: Huffington Post story on real estate signs, with video" In response to Reply # 3 Sun Feb-21-10 11:31 PM by pops
Looks like someone wants to take these bandit signs to the next level . I hope a lawyer can find the parties involved and do something about it. It seems like that's his motivation.
I can't see what posting all these pictures is going do to stop the problem of bandit signs and real estate scams directly, but I got a hunch these type of signs have scammed a few citizens, here in Las Vegas Nevada.
#5. "RE: Huffington Post story on real estate signs, with video" In response to Reply # 4
Pops. and all, The main object of the Huffington Post doing this is not about the signs it is about the bottom feeders who use the signs to prey on the folks who are already sinking under the economy. That they are including the "bandit" signs (I call them illegal, they can call them bandit if they want) is a coincidental bonus to us/me. I am going to be sending in all of the pictures I can take right before I slice the signs in half. The Dallas sign numbers are about to rise. Betty
#6. "RE: Huffington Post story on real estate signs, with video" In response to Reply # 3
There's no need to email it, but fill out the submission information on the bottom of the interactive map page. My sign submission showed up in less than 24 hours, but no number was assigned to it. It also has no star on it. I think they may be still working out the kinks, maybe/hopefully.
Someone in Las Vegas submitted a sign picture, their name is causs.org- again no number or star was assigned to it.
#7. "RE: Huffington Post story on real estate signs, with video" In response to Reply # 6
Well, The Dallas area number just jumped to 18 from one after I sent in a few. I will continue to send more. I will take the picture right before I cut the sign in half. I just got an email from huffpost producer who wanted more info. I will happily provide her with info that might help her story. Betty
#10. "RE: Huffington Post story on real estate signs, with video" In response to Reply # 9
This publicity is wonderful. I can only guess that several of the bottom feeders are aware of the Huff post story and have gone into low profile mode for a while. This weekend will tell for sure but my 39 pictures that were uploaded before were all taken in one week. This morning I had to hunt to find 2 signs,,, and ruin them before reporting them to the CE's. I could only contribute 2 pictures today and I feel like I am slacking off. Betty