The rise in foreclosures and mortgage defaults in the Northwest has sparked a rash of financial scams.
That's according to Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna.
Wednesday he announced new lawsuits against loan modification and foreclosure rescue businesses.
The legal actions are part of a nationwide crackdown against alleged sham consultants.
McKenna says the scammers target people who are desperate to keep their homes.
Rob McKenna: ”The more homeowners who are in distress, the more potential targets there are for these operators. And they always demand money upfront, which is a big red flag, and then they don't deliver. Now, there are legitimate loan counselors out there. The good news is that they're available at no charge.
McKenna says the federal department of Housing and Urban Development certifies loan counselors who offer advice on managing your debt.
Of the 189 cases filed against loan modification and foreclosure rescue companies, five are in Washington, three are in Oregon and two are in Idaho.