Green Real Estate Appraiser

Carolyn Murray was in trouble. The Bowie resident and information technology worker had lost her job as a result of the recession and was beginning to fall behind on her mortgage payments.

Around mid-2011, Murray, now 64, attended a seminar claiming to be sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There she was given the name of an out-of-state law firm that might be able to help her.

“I hadn’t understood that a lawyer would be involved,” she says, “but they said, ‘This person will help you get a modification.’ ”

It seemed legitimate: Working through a lawyer sounded official, and Murray’s online research turned up a number of strong ratings for the firm. So she saved and borrowed the $4,000 required for the fee and turned it over to the company, which promised to act as a liaison between her and the bank.

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