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Popster27

join:2008-07-19
Placentia, CA

[Scam] Perfectly legal scam

I got a letter today from a company offering to get the documentation about my home mortgage from the local courthouse. They are willing to provide this "service" for only $89, despite the facts that: 1) I could get these papers from the courthouse myself for a lot less money and 2) I got copies of these papers when my mortgage closed. This is not a new scam, as I first heard about it at least twenty years ago. There is nothing illegal about it either -- this outfit is just offering to do the legwork for me. I consider it a scam because the letter implied that I really needed these documents and never indicated that I could get them myself. They are looking for naive people who will not only jump at the chance to take advantage of this "offer" but will thank the scum who take advantage of them. It makes me angry, and it makes me sick.



Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

I will grant you, the letters are usually misleading about how much you "need" the documents. But aside from that, I have hard time tagging it as a scam.

You can pay a guy to mow your lawn, but just because you could do it yourself for free doesn't make him a scammer for charging you. Nor for suggesting your lawn needs to be mowed.



Popster27

join:2008-07-19
Placentia, CA

1 recommendation

I do need my lawn mowed from time to time, but I don't need these documents. IMO, if I convince you that you need to spend money on something you don't need, and most of that money ends up in my pocket, I am a scammer.



Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Clearwire Wireless
·Time Warner Cable

1 recommendation

reply to Camelot One

said by Camelot One:

I will grant you, the letters are usually misleading about how much you "need" the documents. But aside from that, ...

"But aside from that,"
How can you dismiss a key element of the scam & then say you have a hard time calling it a scam?
An event needs to be judged on it's totality.


Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

Because you don't "need" most of the products and services being offered. Yet 18 minutes of every hour of television is one ad after another telling you otherwise. Convincing people they "need" your product/service is just basic advertising.

If they were charging $89 to deliver nothing, it would be a scam. But if they can make $89 off of people who are too lazy to go to the clerks office on their own, and they actually deliver what they are advertising, then I say more power to them.



Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Clearwire Wireless
·Time Warner Cable

said by Camelot One:

Because you don't "need" most of the products and services being offered. Yet 18 minutes of every hour of television is one ad after another telling you otherwise. Convincing people they "need" your product/service is just basic advertising.

I see where you're coming from & it's not an unreasonable place.
There are many 'services' that can be done for free that are sold without rising to the point of being a scam.
It's not about a free service having a fee associated with it.
It's about the relative value of the service being offered.
Car registration in Honolulu is a good case in point.
I can go & register a car for only the registration fee or I can pay a company to do the registration for me at a premium (~$80)
For my $80 I save a trip to town & few hours waiting in line.
I wouldn't call that service a scam although I could do it for free if I chose to.
Here's the difference:
I need to register my car or suffer all sorts of penalties especially if I drive the car on a public roadway.
I'm sure that 1000's of times every day across the nation someone gets into trouble for lack of car registration.
What consequence befalls an unwitting home owner who fails to maintain a hard copy of ones public record mortgage documents?
How many times a day across the nation does the need for a home owner to have that hard copy into play?

05641623

join:2012-09-17
North Coast
reply to Camelot One

said by Camelot One:

I will grant you, the letters are usually misleading about how much you "need" the documents. But aside from that, I have hard time tagging it as a scam.

You can pay a guy to mow your lawn, but just because you could do it yourself for free doesn't make him a scammer for charging you. Nor for suggesting your lawn needs to be mowed.

Yeah, but the guy cutting your lawn doesn't imply you can't do it yourself or he is giving you any special service unavailable doing it yourself.

GroovyPhoenx

join:2006-05-22
Gloucester, ON
reply to Popster27

Exploiter maybe, scammer no, a scammer entails illegal activity.

Immoral, Inhumane, Exploitative maybe, but scammer? No.



Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Clearwire Wireless
·Time Warner Cable

Definition for scammer:
Web definitions:
swindler: a person who swindles you by means of deception or fraud.
»www.google.com/search?q=define%3···irefox-a

Implying that a mortgage is at risk for the lack of having a local copy of publicly available mortgage documents is deceitful.
It must be deceitful because it is not true.

de·ceit·ful/distfl/
Adjective:

(of a person) Deceiving or misleading others, typically on a habitual basis.
Intended to deceive or mislead.

Synonyms:
deceptive - false - fraudulent - delusive - lying

»www.google.com/search?q=define%3···&bih=309



Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12
reply to Popster27

That's a stretch. It's not scamming you out of anything.



Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Clearwire Wireless
·Time Warner Cable

said by Krisnatharok:

That's a stretch. It's not scamming you out of anything.

Yeah, you're right.
It's not scamming me out of anything.


Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12

You mean you actually take salesmen at their word??



Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6

The difference is that not all salespeople peddle snake oil.



Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12

Anyone who doesn't understand that salespeople exist to offer convenience for money. Nothing else. The "scam" in the OP falls under this, oil changes at the dealership fall under this, and warranties at Best Buy fall under this.

You could call any of these "scams." It's merely convenience.
--
If we lose this freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment, those who had the most to lose, did the least to prevent its happening.


hoyleysox
Premium
join:2003-11-07
Long Beach, CA
reply to Popster27

While those letters don't fit the complete definition of "scam", they are scammy and deceptively written to look like municipal correspondence with an urgent "respond now" tone. I almost fell for it, but then noticed fine print on the bottom with disclaimer language that indicated that it wasn't from the city.



Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Clearwire Wireless
·Time Warner Cable
reply to Krisnatharok

said by Krisnatharok:

Anyone who doesn't understand that salespeople exist to offer convenience for money. Nothing else. The "scam" in the OP falls under this, oil changes at the dealership fall under this, and warranties at Best Buy fall under this.

You could call any of these "scams." It's merely convenience.

I wouldn't call a dealership oil change or a Best Buy warranty scams.
I do call the
"offering to get the documentation about my home mortgage from the local courthouse. They are willing to provide this "service" for only $89,"
a scam.
Why is that?
Any point of contention re a dealership oil change or a Best Buy warranty would be about the cost vs relative value which is subjective whereas the value of retaining a local copy of documentation about a home mortgage is non-existent.
short story: the mortgage documentation doesn't have any value so it's relative worth is not subjective.
There's a difference between selling something at a hyper inflated price & selling snake oil at any price.


Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12

Maybe someone works five days a week and can't get down there. Maybe they have to submit all their annual leave a year in advance and are just that inflexible. Maybe $90 is a steal if they need their documents for some reason.

And a BB warranty IS a scam.
--
If we lose this freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment, those who had the most to lose, did the least to prevent its happening.



Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Clearwire Wireless
·Time Warner Cable

said by Krisnatharok:

Maybe someone works five days a week and can't get down there.

Can't get down there to get the documentation?
1. Why would someone need to have a local copy of publicly available mortgage documents?
2. What adverse consequence would a person face for not having it?
3. What benefit would be realized by maintaining that copy?
Answers:
1. There isn't any need.
2. None.
3. Same as #2
That's why it's a scam.


Krisnatharok
Caveat Emptor
Premium
join:2009-02-11
Earth Orbit
kudos:12

No idea. Why do people buy half the unnecessary shit they do?

Don't forget to opt for the Maintenance II package next time you take your car to the dealer.



Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Clearwire Wireless
·Time Warner Cable

said by Krisnatharok:

No idea. Why do people buy half the unnecessary shit they do?

That's a good point, well taken.
said by Krisnatharok:

Don't forget to opt for the Maintenance II package next time you take your car to the dealer.

hehe, you make a strong argument using car dealerships & Best Buy as scam comparisons, but dig deep enough & you can find some sense of potential benefit in their offerings albeit not very good values.


nwrickert
sand groper
Premium,MVM
join:2004-09-04
Geneva, IL
kudos:7
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
reply to Krisnatharok

said by Krisnatharok:

Anyone who doesn't understand that salespeople exist to offer convenience for money.

It is not the sales people that are the problem. It is the marketing people. And when they are the same people, watch out.
--
AT&T Uverse; Zyxel NBG334W router (behind the 2wire gateway); openSuSE 12.2; firefox 15.0

GroovyPhoenx

join:2006-05-22
Gloucester, ON
reply to Snowy

said by Snowy:

Definition for scammer:
Web definitions:
swindler: a person who swindles you by means of deception or fraud.
»www.google.com/search?q=define%3···irefox-a

Implying that a mortgage is at risk for the lack of having a local copy of publicly available mortgage documents is deceitful.
It must be deceitful because it is not true.

de·ceit·ful/distfl/
Adjective:

(of a person) Deceiving or misleading others, typically on a habitual basis.
Intended to deceive or mislead.

Synonyms:
deceptive - false - fraudulent - delusive - lying

»www.google.com/search?q=define%3···&bih=309

Agreed, if the wording is saying something along the lines of YOU ARE AT RISK OF LOSING YOUR HOME" etc, then yes it's a scam however, once more it depends entirely upon the wording of the letter, these idiots hire laywers to make sure they can get away with it and stay just within a hairline of the laws on false or misrepresentation.

hoyleysox
Premium
join:2003-11-07
Long Beach, CA

said by GroovyPhoenx:

Agreed, if the wording is saying something along the lines of YOU ARE AT RISK OF LOSING YOUR HOME" etc, then yes it's a scam however, once more it depends entirely upon the wording of the letter, these idiots hire laywers to make sure they can get away with it and stay just within a hairline of the laws on false or misrepresentation.

I would agree that the letter is slightly legal, due to the fine print, but its still worthy of posting in this Scam forum because it is deceptive and worthless.

It would be helpful to post the current names of the companies that send the letters. I regret shredding mine.


Blogger
Jedi Poster
Premium
join:2012-10-18
Reviews:
·Champion Broadba..

1 edit

Slightly legal? An act is either legal or it is not. Black and white. However, your advice is well taken.

Strictly from my personal perspective I consider the OP described situation more the act of a shyster than a scammer, because as you alluded to legality is an issue. To me a scam means to me a willful illegal dishonest act.



Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Clearwire Wireless
·Time Warner Cable

1 recommendation

said by Blogger:

Strictly from my personal perspective I consider the OP described situation more the act of a shyster than a scammer, because as you alluded to legality is an issue. To me a scam means to me a willful illegal dishonest act.

Welcome to the site Blogger See Profile!
Shyster, scammer, sleaze, etc...
Take your pick, they all work.

GroovyPhoenx

join:2006-05-22
Gloucester, ON

1 recommendation

reply to hoyleysox

The letter is legal, they are offeringa service to provide you with documents.

The point of this is that YES if you KNOW your stuff you can get these documents for very little to no money at the courthouse/city hall etc. I believe most charge the nominal 5$ fee or something, point being, YES you can get this stuff yourself.

They use scare tactics that have almost no chance at occurring to get you to buy it, that to me is not right, it's not illegal unfortunately.



Popster27

join:2008-07-19
Placentia, CA
reply to Popster27

Click for full size
Envelope
Click for full size
Letter
This post created a lot more response than I expected. I should have included the offer, but I destroyed the letter before scanning it. Just this week I received another solicitation from the same source, which I have scanned and attached (personal info has been removed).

The sender has done everything they can to make this look official, short of saying it is. It is designed to prey on the gullible. In my mind, that makes it a scam.


Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

It says in big bold print, THREE TIMES, that it is not from the government, and clearly states TWICE that you can get the same records directly from the county recorder.

I still stand by my original comment. This is a company selling a completely legal service to people who are either stupid, or just too lazy to do it on their own, and I am perfectly ok with that. I see no scam at all.


hoyleysox
Premium
join:2003-11-07
Long Beach, CA
reply to Popster27

I recognize that letter.

To the letter's credit the box at top and the last paragraph in the letter is unambiguous. This forums readers know the letter is "scammy" since OP described it as such, but the targeted nature of that direct mail campaign makes it effective, at least to first time home buyer me. I am embarrassed to admit I wrote out the check before rereading the letter and tearing both up. Then I got similar letters from other companies...

IMO, that "business" is all about the timing: whichever company delivers the letter first is most likely to get a customer or victim.



Snowy
Premium
join:2003-04-05
Kailua, HI
kudos:6
Reviews:
·Clearwire Wireless
·Time Warner Cable

1 recommendation

reply to Camelot One

said by Camelot One:

It says in big bold print, THREE TIMES, that it is not from the government, and clearly states TWICE that you can get the same records directly from the county recorder.

I still stand by my original comment. This is a company selling a completely legal service to people who are either stupid, or just too lazy to do it on their own, and I am perfectly ok with that. I see no scam at all.


"Warning: $2,000 Fine, 5 Years Imprisonment, or both for any person interfering or obstructing with delivery of this letter U.S. Mail TTT.18 U.S. Code."
This warning printed on the address side of the envelope doesn't seem misleading to you?

Here's a self test that can be taken at home/office to assess scam identification proficiency.
Why is that warning there?
1. A public service mesage educating the general public about the consequences of mail theft.
2. The USPS bought advertising space on the envelope to discourage mail theft.
3. To give the impression that the envelope is related to U.S. government business where such notices are common.

Why is "This is not a government approved or authorized document" printed below the warning?
1. It's a voluntary statement made by the advertiser.
2. It's mandated by the USPS to offset the misleading nature of the warning.

Why does the mailing indicia say "Local Records Office"?
1. To mislead the addressee into believing it's from their "Local Records Office".
2. To mislead the addressee into believing it's from someone elses "Local Records Office".
3. It isn't misleading because it is from "Local Records Office".

Why does the letter refer to itself as originating from "Local Records Office"
see above

Here's a pop quiz:
What is a "Local Records Office"
1. It's the office of a dude named Local Records
2. A town or counties records bureau
3. A carefully chosen business name used to fool people into believing the business is something they are not.

Optional for extra credit:
Why are there so many legal disclaimers?
1. They are opt-in disclosures that responsible advertisers adhere to
2. They are Federal requirements put in place to mitigate false & misleading advertisements.

DISCLAIMER: Anyone self administering this self test does so AT THEIR OWN RISK!