The online advertising mortgage scam investigation announced last week by the Treasury Department involves Bing and Yahoo, as well as Google. the agency has revealed. The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) says 125 scams in all have been shut down, as Bing has ceased relationship with more than 400 advertisers and agencies identified by the agency. Ads placed through Microsoft’s adCenter are distributed on Yahoo, as well as on Bing.com.
The mortgage scams under investigation by SIGTARP involve bad actors who lured in unsuspecting troubled homeowners with online advertising. The ads, and accompanying landing pages, made false promises to homeowners who sought to restructure their mortgages and lower their payments. Some landing pages showed seals that made them falsely seem to be government agencies. Instead of helping, some took up-front payments, got property deeds signed over to them, and encouraged homeowners to cease communicating with their lenders. Others convinced homeowners to hand over sensitive financial information. SIGTARP says some victims lost their homes as a result.
“Many homeowners who have fallen prey to these scams were enticed by Web banner ads and online search advertisements that promised, for a fee, to help lower mortgage payments,” said Christy Romero, Deputy Special Inspector General for SIGTARP, in a statement.
Last week, SIGTARP announced a similar operation with Google, which involved 85 different scams and more than 500 online advertisers and agencies.