According to an article in Star-Telegram, foreclosure scammers falsely claiming that they can save homeowners from foreclosure for a fee rarely face jail time, leaving civil lawsuits as homeowners' only recourse.
The article said:
While some states have recently toughened penalties for perpetrating the booming business of foreclosure scams, and some prosecutors have used existing fraud statutes to bring criminal charges, the reaction of many state prosecutors in places where foreclosure scams are common are civil actions designed to recover a victim's money.
More than 2 million homeowners faced foreclosure in 2008. That high foreclosure figure makes foreclosure scams an easy and lucrative market for the heartless criminals amongst us. With very little possibility of being criminally prosecuted and the high number of homeowners facing foreclosure, many foreclosure scam artists see this crime as low risk and high reward.
Foreclosure scammers are charging homeowners $1000 - $1500 to "help" them avoid foreclosure. Most homeowners never see that money again plus they lose their home to foreclosure. Although it is beneficial that homeowners have the option to pursue civil action against foreclosure scammers, the bottom line reality is that most people facing foreclosure don't have the time, money or energy to file a civil lawsuit against scammers who make themselves difficult to locate and track down.
Our legislators need to be more proactive about creating new laws and/or enforcing existing fraud laws to prosecute foreclosure scammers and deter future criminals from ripping off desperate homeowners facing foreclosure.