Freddie Mac Offers Its Own Version of "The Sting"
Part of a video posted on YouTube last week is captioned "The Sting," but it's unlikely to be confused with the Oscar-winning film by that name starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.
The new video (see it here) was sponsored by Freddie Mac, the federally chartered mortgage funding company, to help homeowners avoid con artists trying to cheat them out of their homes.
The scam in question targets people named in foreclosure notices. Though it isn't a new scam, the number of potential victims is growing in today's troubled real estate market.
"Con artists seek out these notices, copy them, and then call potential victims with the promise to make everyting better," the video warns. "You sign thinking you're saving your home, but you're really giving the con artist the deed to your house," the video says.
By posting the message on YouTube.com, a popular Web site for sharing videos, Freddie Mac hopes to reach people searching the Internet for mortgage-related help, company spokesman Brad German said. The company's interest is more than philanthropic: the fraud can cost it money, too.
In the video dramatization, a young white con man in a suit visits a demographically diverse cast of victims -- a middle-aged African American woman, a gray-haired white guy in a cardigan sweater-vest, and a young Latino male.
"Let's shut the door on fraud," the narrator exhorts.
When the woman shouts "Get out!" and slams the door behind him, the con man beats a flailing retreat.
The video, filmed in Bethesda and Silver Spring, features professional actors, but their contributions go uncredited. The Freddie Mac spokesman said their names are unavailable.
As of Friday afternoon, the video had registered more than 4,600 hits, exceeding the number of Freddie Mac employees (approximately 4,000, the company spokesman said).
It may be the first YouTube video posted by Freddie Mac, but it isn't the only one that comes up in a search by key word "Freddie Mac."
There's also a market news segment in which an investor explains why he's betting against Freddie Mac's stock.
And then there are several videos posted by a self-styled talk show host who goes by the name freddiemac82 and offers occasionally ribald commentary on a range of subjects.
But, based on the number of hits, those segments have not proved nearly as popular as the mortgage finance company's video.
-- David S. Hilzenrath
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Posted by: Chelsea | December 31, 2007 12:43 AM
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