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Archive for Friday, January 9, 2009

Bond scam targets property owners

January 9, 2009

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Q: Our home has been on the market for several months. We recently received a full-price offer from an investor who would purchase the property with a written “private offset bond” guaranteed by the federal government. How do these bonds work?

A: Often, they don’t. So-called private offset bonds are at the core of a small but growing type of scam, the U.S. Treasury Department has warned.

Offset-bond schemes can take several forms. In many, the con artist offers to purchase a property by signing the bond over to the seller instead of paying cash or applying for a traditional mortgage.

It’s a tempting offer to desperate sellers, because the deal supposedly could close within a few days.

The bonds, however, are often fake. Private bonds or promissory notes are never guaranteed by the federal government, the agency says.

The bogus bonds also are being used in attempts to purchase cars and other vehicles. The Treasury Department is asking consumers suspicious about a buyer’s offer to report to the agency’s investigative hot line (800-359-3898) and call the local police or sheriff’s department.

More information about this and other recent scams can be found at the Treasury’s Web site, treasurydirect.gov.

I recently received an e-mail that said California homeowners must purchase a hunting license before setting a mousetrap in their own home. Is this true?

I have received the same e-mail myself. It’s based on a misunderstanding of a state law that was approved nearly seven years ago, which stiffened the requirements for professional hunters, trappers and rodent-extermination companies to get a state-issued license.

The law exempts homeowners from the licensing requirement if they want to set a mouse or rat trap in their own home.

That’s because another measure that was passed several years earlier demands that “every person possessing any place that is infested with rodents … shall at once proceed and continue in good faith to endeavor to exterminate and destroy the rodents by poisoning, trapping and other appropriate means.”

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