The government is cracking down on scammers who take advantage of desperate homeowners facing foreclosure.

Federal and state officials are trying to

put an end to fraudulent companies that charge borrowers up-front fees

of $1,000 to $3,000 to modify their loans. For the most part, the

modifications never happen.

These are predatory schemes designed to

rob Americans of their savings and potentially their homes, says

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. We will shut down fraudulent

companies more quickly than before. We will target companies that

otherwise would have gone unnoticed under the radar.

The Federal Trade Commission says 71

companies ran suspicious advertisements and complaints should filed at

the Federal Loan Modification Law Center and, both

based in California, and Clearwater, Fla.-based Home Assure LLC.

Not every loan modification business is a

fraud, but swimming around in those waters are a lot of sharks, says

Jim Carr, chief operating officer at the National Community

Reinvestment Coalition.

Source: The Associated Press, Alan Zibel and Christopher S. Rugaber (04/06/2009)