Federal regulators shut down mortgage-modification scams running as ads on Yahoo and Bing, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said on Monday.
Similar ads on Google were shut down last week. The ads falsely promised to lower homeowners’ mortgages in exchange for a fee, often even diverting mortgage payments to the fraudulent websites, according to officials.
“Many homeowners who have fallen prey to these scams were enticed by Web banner ads and online search advertisements that promised, for a fee, to help lower mortgage payments,” Christy Romero, deputy special inspector general for the program, said in a statement.
Investigators notified Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft, which owns Bing and powers Yahoo’s ads, of a list of 125 suspected websites, including some that used government logos.
According to the agency, Microsoft has agreed to suspend more than 400 advertisers and agents linked to the websites. Last week Google suspended more than 500 advertisers and agents.
Consumer Watchdog, a group that frequently criticizes Google, wasted no time on Monday calling for executives at Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo to be charged with crimes for allowing the ads to go up in the first place.
“Simply put, too many Internet companies including Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, under the guise of defending an open Internet, allow and even encourage scam ads from which they make millions of dollars,” John Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project, said in a statement.