March 28, 2019 â€" For Immediate Release

Contact: David Leach, Principal Examiner; david.m.leach@maine.gov or 207-624-8527

Augusta â€" In response to a growing number of scams affecting consumers purchasing houses, the state’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection announced the release of a new consumer publication in its “Downeasterâ€� series, titled the New Homeowner Anti-Scam Advisor.

“Mainers who are in the midst of the mortgage application process, those who are approaching their closing date and those who have just moved into their new homes, are all attractive targets for scam artists,� said David Leach, principal examiner at the Bureau and primary author of the booklet. “The newest and potentially most costly of these scams occurs when consumers about to close on homes receive email instructions changing the money-wiring instructions for down payments or even entire purchase prices, when those instructions are sent by dishonest individuals who have hacked into the email systems of real estate brokers, closing agents or lenders.�

“Unless the falsified wiring instructions are discovered and canceled before funds are sent, monies re-directed to fraudulent recipients may be lost forever,� said Leach. In one such recent case in Maine, payment was stopped shortly before the funds were wired to a European location.

The booklet, which is available online at www.Credit.Maine.gov, or free in printed form for Maine residents who call 1-800-332-8529, addresses additional scams affecting soon-to-be and new homeowners, including the door-to-door home improvement scam, the transient-contractor driveway paving scam, the fly-by-night roofing scam, the “Sorry I missed you� door hanger ID theft scam, and mortgage modification/foreclosure rescue scams.

With respect to the closing funds redirection scam, Leach said, “Last-minute emails instructing consumers where their down payment funds should be sent or notice of surprise additional fees for items already paid for, are hallmarks of scam operators. This new publication gives Mainers the skill-sets necessary to recognize a variety of new homeowner scams and stop the scammers before they separate consumers from their funds.�



Online versions of the new guide, and all other Downeaster Common Sense financial publications, can be found at www.Credit.Maine.gov by clicking “Publications.� Copies can also be ordered by calling the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection at 1-800-332-8529 (toll-free in Maine) or 624-8527.

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The Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection was established in 1975 to enforce credit-related consumer laws. The agency licenses lenders, creditors and collectors; conducts periodic examinations of creditors to determine compliance with state laws; and responds to consumer complaints and inquiries. The Bureau operates the state’s pre-foreclosure hotline, referral and counseling service, and provides speakers to advise consumers and creditors of their legal rights and responsibilities.

Last Updated: March 26, 2019 4:45 PM