December 6, 2008 1:33 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend received a letter from a Dr. Gordon Boggs in Carrollton, GA, stating that she was due a refund of overpaid mortgage insurance. In exchange for a promise to pay 10% of the overpayment after receiving a signed form from us agreeing to a "handshake deal" (basically promising to send him 10% of the refund), he would send us a case number and contact information to begin processing this overpayment due to my girlfriend. Is this legit? How can we find out more about this without kicking back anything to the person? Thanks.
posted by irie1972 to Work & Money (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely a scam.
posted by peacheater at 1:43 PM on December 6, 2008

Why would this man approach you in the first place? How would he have access to your financial records and knowledge of an overpayment that your PMI company didn't have? If you really think you overpaid, contact your PMI company. Whatever you do, DO NOT give this random person any financial or personally identifiable information.

If you have to ask "Is this legit?," you've already got your answer.
posted by jesourie at 1:44 PM on December 6, 2008

Legitimate entities don't typically ask you to bribe them for information. This is a scam.
posted by chrisamiller at 1:45 PM on December 6, 2008

This is a scam. If your GF has overpaid mortgage insurance, she can obtain this information all on her lonesome, and act accordingly.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:46 PM on December 6, 2008

To begin with, does your girlfriend know this person? Does he have any reason to know the details of her mortgage?

This person seems to exist, based on an search.

Legitimate unclaimed funds are routed through the Georgia Department of Revenue. This site allows you to search for unclaimed funds by name. It could be that he is using this data and trying to charge you for a service that the state provides for free.

It sounds suspicious to me.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 1:50 PM on December 6, 2008

Here's what you need to know.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:50 PM on December 6, 2008

Read this: Nigerian Scammer Payback. Everything will become crystal clear (and if it doesn't... rip up the letter it's a scam).
posted by pwally at 1:52 PM on December 6, 2008

A google search led me to this in a minute or two:

Some FHA homeowners are really due a refund. Apparently the MIP or Mortgage Insurance Protection premiums that were paid ended up being too high. The insurance is designed to protect the lender, in this case the FHA from the risk of the homeowner defaulting on the loan. Unfortunately there are many third party companies, called tracers, which have been contacting consumers and offering to help for a fee or percentage of the refund. Although it is not illegal, it is absolutely unnecessary to do. Consumers who actually held or still hold an FHA loan can simply call the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development support center at 1-800-697-6967 and see if a refund is due.The callis free and the refund process is simple and costs you nothing. Consumers can also visit the HUD website at for information concerning refunds. Many of these third party companies exploit the consumer.
posted by intermod at 1:53 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Try checking on to see if your girlfriend's name comes up there. He could have found her on there and is attempting to collect a portion of the money that she can get on her own without paying a commission.
posted by Frank Grimes at 1:53 PM on December 6, 2008

Response by poster: thanks for the help, everyone. After I posted initially, I googled the topic myself and, sure enough, I found the HUD website that lets you search by name to see if there is a refund due to you. This person just combed the database and sent out a bunch of letters to people to help them get their refund in exchange for the the 10% fee. So, my girlfriend will be able to take care of this herself. Thanks again!
posted by irie1972 at 1:57 PM on December 6, 2008

Simple question: why would a "Dr." be involved in mortgage insurance?
posted by tommasz at 1:57 PM on December 6, 2008

Response by poster: if this might apply to you, go here and search
posted by irie1972 at 1:58 PM on December 6, 2008

Response by poster: I googled his name, apparently he is a teacher with a PhD. He says so in his introduction in the letter we received. The google search resulted in this link
posted by irie1972 at 2:01 PM on December 6, 2008

Well, that's pretty creepy of him to use his status as a professor with a private university to pitch his own entrepreneurial project. Reading his bio makes it a little clearer. Of course, that assumes the actual Gordon Boggs wrote the email in the first place.

I'd be forwarding that email to his department chair.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:04 PM on December 6, 2008 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Hi, all just wanted to say again how thankful I am for all your help. Happy Holidays!
posted by irie1972 at 2:17 PM on December 6, 2008

It's extra creepy of someone whose degree is in math education to run a financial scam.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:40 PM on December 6, 2008

Is it really a scam?

If he did some leg work and found some money that otherwise people wouldn't have known about (even though it may seem easy-peasy to us) might that be worth 10%?
posted by bottlebrushtree at 2:51 PM on December 6, 2008

Whether it is a "scam" or not -- and at a minimum the dude is spamming people -- most universities have conflict of interest policies that limit (if they don't prohibit) a faculty member from using his/her affiliation to advertise, authorize or imply endorsement of a private enterprise, legal or not.

I don't have the original email in hand to see how Prof. Boggs actually represented his identity. But if you read his bio, he's not really a professor of "math," and more a professor of "making money with schemes."

So maybe it's a class experiment. Write back and ask for his IRB approval number.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:14 PM on December 6, 2008

It's a scam if he's presenting it as information he exclusively has, suggesting that their only options are to pay him or go without the info.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:22 PM on December 6, 2008

Whether it is a "scam" or not -- and at a minimum the dude is spamming people -- most universities have conflict of interest policies that limit (if they don't prohibit) a faculty member from using his/her affiliation to advertise, authorize or imply endorsement of a private enterprise, legal or not.

I think the whole thing is creepy and borderline scammy too, but how is he using his affiliation? Calling himself "Dr." in and of itself doesn't do that, it is just a cheap/tacky way to try to get credibility, no worse than when authors of self help books do it. If he has a Ph.D he can call himself Dr. any time he wants, tacky as it is. The OP didn't even know he was a professor at a university until googling him.
posted by advil at 4:33 PM on December 6, 2008

Good rule of thumb: no "handshake deals" with people you can't shake hands with.
posted by Rykey at 9:44 PM on December 6, 2008

From the university website:

The two primary Bible studies that [Dr. Gordon Boggs] teaches are “The Job of a Christian” and “Revelation.”

Interesting that he teaches "The Job of a Christian" while running a scheme like this.

Maybe this isn't a "scam," but it is a very questionable scheme for an educator to run a side business finding money that is due to people, writing them and saying "I won't give you the information unless you promise me 10% of what you are entitled to." I suspect what he is doing is perfectly legal, but it is morally suspect.
posted by jayder at 12:02 AM on December 7, 2008

OK, I thought he mentioned his professorial status in the original email.

The mark of secure PhDs is that they don't use the title "Dr." most of the time. Yech.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:14 PM on December 7, 2008

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