There’s an interesting criminal case taking place in New York that could set a precedent for charging scam artists who target struggling homeowners facing foreclosure with a hate crime. The case involves five people who were charged and/or convicted of a hate crime for targeting senior citizens with nonviolent crimes such as mortgage fraud. The case involved several women who would target elderly men because of their perceived wealth and then bilk them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars via mortgage scams and other tricks. Because the scam artists were charged under New York’s hate crimes law, they were able to give the criminals a stiffer penalty whereas without the hate crime law, they would not receive any jail time. The state’s hate crime law says that a person can be convicted under the statute if they committed a crime “because of a belief or perception regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person.” If we extend this definition to scam artists who target homeowners facing foreclosure because they perceive them as desperate, ill-informed and easy targets, couldn’t they also be charged with a hate crime? Shouldn’t they be charged with a hate crime? Because if targeting vulnerable homeowners facing foreclosure with mean spirited scams is not hate, then what is? Many scam artists target homeowners facing foreclosure because they know that they are unlikely to receive a stiff jail sentence if they receive a jail sentence at all. Maybe we need to let these foreclosure scam artists know where we really stand on their criminal behavior by throwing them into the post with others who are charged with hate crimes.