Beware of Spot Value Solicitations

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Beware of Spot Value SolicitationsMany appraisers have gotten invitation letters in the mail from Spot Value to join their panel. The letter states that the appraiser was recommended by one of their clients and that their panel is by invitation only!

They have a website which makes them look legit. Their address at 2601 Main St, Irvine, CA 92614 is to Century Centre building but they do not provide a suite number. The domain is registered to a Michael Miller who is also the CEO and sender of the invitation letters. We were unable to reach Michael Miller at 919-404-4889. Their greeting message is computer generated and there is no voicemail setup to leave a message.

We researched the name Michael Miller and found the following:

“Mehdi Moarefian, also known as “Michael Miller,” 37, Irvine, California, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to 52 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for participating in an extensive mortgage loan modification scheme. Moarefian also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,390,496.59.”

Per HousingWire, he was the ringleader of a massive mortgage modification fraud scheme.

..falsely purported to provide home mortgage loan modifications and other consumer debt relief services to numerous homeowners in Connecticut and across the United States in exchange for upfront fees…Homeowners were charged fees that typically ranged from approximately $2,500 to $4,300 for their services.

In order to induce homeowners to pay these fees, the group made a series of false representations, including: stating that the homeowners already had been approved for mortgage loan modifications on “extremely favorable” terms;

If this is the same person as the CEO of Spot Value, then it is clear that he is using the same type of tactics to scheme appraisers.

Spot Value appears to be operating as a portal, meaning they just provide a central repository of appraisers the lenders can access.

Per Spot Value website:

Spot Value makes the appraisal process quick and efficient. Appraisal orders will be assigned via email and text message and based on your member profile coverage areas and good standing within our performance rating system. You may accept or decline appraisal orders as your schedule allows, but we will continually expect a high standard of quality and timely work.

Appraiser fees: Spot Value operates with full transparency and with an ethical business model: Cost Plus. 100% of the appraisal fee goes to the appraiser, who completes the assignment. Spot Value charges a separate fee to the client for using our uniquely developed SaaS (Software as a Service) platform . Each appraiser is required to enter the fees for areas and products and are paid that amount for each order completed.

Application Fee: The application processing fee is $39.00. Application processing fee is a one-time fee for processing your application and checking against our customers blacklist. Please note that we will not review your application until your application processing fee is received.

Not an AMC: platform as a non-biased means to introduce appraisers to lenders and facilitate the flow of information and files between them.

Sounds like another pay to pay scam. Beware!

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24 Responses

  1. Ann Brock on Facebook Ann Brock on Facebook says:

    Thanks for researching this. I received invite but did not respond /join.

    7
  2. Adam Wiener on Twitter Adam Wiener on Twitter says:

    Run away!

    7
  3. Avatar Jack Of All Trades says:

    Scam after scam in this dead field.

    12
  4. Avatar Jeff Weeks says:

    I got one of those letters. Once they asked for a credit card i was out

    8
    • Avatar Todd Manno says:

      As soon as I saw the payment request, I checked my state board for an AMC number. No listing. I sent them message on their website. It wasn’t nice.

      3
  5. Avatar Tony Moses says:

    I got the letter, thanks for saving me the time!!

    3
  6. Avatar Ed Schaar says:

    My appraisal business is in Irvine and I can go by that address to see if there is a Suite # but it appears that they are bogus. It all sounded almost to good to be true till the end of the Invitation asking for $38.00 upfront?. Probably just another scammer.

    9
    • Baggins Baggins says:

      That effort is not necessary. Location for lease. Betcha a pepsi the michael guy is the patsy, an easy redirect of researchers attention play. Sometimes when it’s that obvious, it’s too obvious. If you got the link, use the dns tools link below to review the payment site redirect. Most likely that’s an in page data grabber without a redirect, or a simple call to payment authority would shut it down within the hour.

      Malwarebytes and many others talked about this recently. Broad net data phishing is getting stale when it comes to stand alone pc’s and individuals. Broad net is trending to become more localized where an entire company will be targeted rather than random down the line email approaches. The goal being to drop a payload that is then activated through a secondary attack vector. Multi stage payload drop and later stage activation is the new deal, harder to detect because the algorithm does not activate in whole until combined and the first payloads effectively assemble and then transmit data lists for later stage activity through additional attack vectors. individual targeted scams have a higher data and payout yield lately. The bright side is the trend is shifting from scamming individuals towards penetrating larger corporations. Still freely sharing your data with corporations and using all their nifty memory, cross linking, and auto log in tools? Still not concerned with mobile device security, just saying yes to all those app agreements? Computing in the cloud? Think again.

      I’ve called something like this years ago. It’s not if amc’s get hacked, sniffed, and penetrated, it’s when. Same for the CU system. All cloud based data and cloud based software is subject to penetration without the end user even being aware. My money is on some correlation between appraisers whom got these links, all having been on a certain amc or lenders approved appraiser list. Given the nature of the language on the advertisement, it’s possibly an old hack because their informational source for page language is obviously stale. Not all states post email contacts anymore and the asc database is too time consuming to use auto scrape tools so it’s doubtful the setup to develop the contact list was random. The specific hosting service is part of a larger EIG network operations group. There are warnings about those too.

      Gotta love the broker reviews though. They really took all the hot topics appraisers talk about and applied them quite cleverly. Every single one of the ‘reviews’ is outright fake and written by the same person.

      https://researchasahobby.com/full-list-eig-hosting-companies-brands/

      https://blog.malwarebytes.com/malwarebytes-news/ctnt-report/2019/01/2019-state-malware-report-trojans-cryptominers-dominate-threat-landscape/

      https://blog.malwarebytes.com/malwarebytes-news/2018/10/labs-cybercrime-tactics-and-techniques-report-ctnt-shows-shift-to-business-targets/

      If anyone wants to post a general warning in the website safety review world for Spot Value Scam, they can do so here.
      https://www.scamdoc.com/view/156064

      End of 7 pro without extortion payments to cloud providers is here. What a ripoff! I’m refusing to upgrade this one and am going to keep it in the garage or something and just get a new 10 pro. The golden age of pc usage is officially over as of the 15th. From this point forward it will be a requirement to pay and pay and pay again with no relief from operating system extortion in sight.

      Anyways, this was fun to research, but as all avenues lead to an overly obvious patsy and dead ends, one can be mostly certain that; The website is a fraud, the registrant is a patsy, the number is disposable, and the actual hacker is probably rather sophisticated and just ran this site on the side for spare change. Depending on how many appraisers fell for it, will determine if they try it again with a new brand name or not.

      2
    • I think you will find it is a mail box forwarding service.

      1
  7. Avatar Koma says:

    Thank you for the heads up! I received it too and maked it as spam.

    5
  8. Baggins Baggins says:

    Logical fault. If the consumer is charged an upfront fee for the appraisal, and the appraiser sets their own fees, what happens to the difference?

    Not accepting voicemails and not allowing people to leave a message is a huge red flag for every business out there.

    We provide best value for our client and respect their time and business practices.

    What, english is this persons second language? Understanding that a transmission portal does not participate in ‘the client relationship’ is ethics 101. “our client”. Fail.

    Every single one of the user reviews at the bottom is just made up. Wow.

    Appraisers really are easy targets.

    2
    • Avatar Koma says:

      Or maybe they checked my state website that provides my email address?! That too is why I do not provide my home address on any of my business info.

      2
      • Baggins Baggins says:

        “Compliance with HVCC”, under registration requirements. Say what, HVCC sunsetted nearly a decade ago.

        Application fee; $39 dollars. I was wondering what the motivation was to present a fictitious management portal would be. If this is true, the system might function as a targeted data phish seeking one at a times rather than a broad net.
        ///////////////////////////

        I found one of the page developers resumes, but the site had apparently been up for sale in late 2019. No need to link original page developer. Way Back had this for sale late last year so that confirms the page was created in just the past few months.
        https://web.archive.org/web/20190803075355/http://spotvalue.com/

        https://tools.dnsstuff.com/#dnsReport|type=domain&&value=spotvalue.com
        Failed on the mail. Not good.

        I found a name number hit which is probably 99% nothing, those number websites most likely auto populate a diverse mix of names just to get click hits. Below image attach is probably nothing.

        Basic rules to keep yourself safe as an appraiser online. They pay you, you do not pay them. If pay for record checks or processing fee is a requirement, simply pass as a standard regular engagement rule or demand they pay and perhaps reduce your first check or something along those lines. Appraisers are not temps, we don’t pay to work. People whom give companies like this their data may be in for more than they bargained for. Suggest a temporary credit freeze and an immediate re issue of new ccard with new numbers, for anyone whom may have submitted record check data to this one.

        All that being learned. I’d rather work for this guy than an amc.

        4
  9. Great research! Thanks for doing this.

    4
  10. Avatar Tim Walton says:

    Thanks for the heads up

    2
  11. Avatar Jason says:

    Ok, so fight a scam with a scam. Post anything for sale on craigslist. When the first scammer contacts you, play along. They will offer to send you a fake cashier’s check for more than you are asking for whatever you are selling. Just tell them your name is Spot Valuation and give the address for Spot Valuation. The craigslist scammer will send a fake check to the Spot Valuation scammers. Spot Valuation is probably stupid enough to deposit/cash the check. Bam!

    2
    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Betcha a pepsi the same person or group is behind this recent string of similar fake signup sites. Last time they somehow left a breadcrumb pointing at the Coester guy, and now it’s this discredited mb guy in the spotlight.

      Hackers are focusing on industries now and large organizations. The loose network of independent appraisers is ripe for picking, being so many supposedly legitimate organizations use and abuse our contact information and data on a normal basis. The unintended consequences of lenders treating the appraisal community as disposable and so easily replaceable, leaving us with no safety nets, no reliable community standards, and forcing us to accept and become acclimated with a myriad of tech fees and amc scams.

      It’s not surprising many appraisers do not recognize the difference between an outright scammer and forced participation middle management and tech relay companies. Just deserts will be when these sites function as a payload transfer vector for the larger lender or tech company target. The previous decade of cost savings and tech fee earnings via offloading appraisal assignment and digital management responsibilities could be wiped out in a heartbeat.

      Don’t bring specific attention to yourself with these people personally, they may be part of larger organized criminal networks. Research the issue, be aware of how the scam works. Do not contact them directly. This is probably so much more than the old african email scamsters you’ve seen people reverse play on ytb vids and all. They are probably actively reading all these posts because when it comes to numbers, this article probably stopped what could have been tens of thousands in easy income. Your idea of how they move money is incorrect. More likely they’re instantly converting to a digital currency and leave no trace. They are after all, apparently sophisticated enough to set up a detailed website with industry specific language, rock a semi believable fake named web host locale, take payments and send what are surely to be anonymized invite emails to an accurate target list.

      Who’s got the invite email on hand? Post the email meta data for posterity. If you don’t know how to read email meta data, it’s time to learn because it’s relatively easy and it’s important to be able to identify spoofed email addresses, that’s one of the easiest hacks out there. Have you ever got an email from yourself demanding ransom? If you have not by now, you will eventually, that is also one of the quickest rising extortion methods.

      Would be interested to hear a follow up from someone whom actually paid into this, see the actual email for reference, etc. The wayback hit absolutely verifies a false site when contrasted against the site review claims. This should be treated as a verified fraud and given detailed research, handed over to authorities, etc, etc.

      1
  12. Avatar Carl says:

    I got that letter today. Great timing on this article!

    2
  13. Avatar Thomas Messina says:

    Hi, I received the same invitation started to fill out the application and stopped when they asked for money, did a research and found this blog. It’s amazing how these people get away with this and the authorities can’t find them if it was me doing it they would find me in a second. lol.

    1
    • Baggins Baggins says:

      Welcome to the age of vpn’s (virtual private networks), spoofing (presenting a false number or other contact point like email from address), and digital currencies (bitcoin, etc, which allows virtually untraceable monetary movement).

      https://hostingtribunal.com/blog/hacking-statistics/

      This is a great example of how conversations at forums are behind login walls and conversations on pages like this blog can be accessed by interested parties. It’s important that if you need something to be learned or heard by others, the information is readily available through a standard web search.

      The abuses of this industry has made appraisers easy targets. The act of becoming accustomed to just filling out all this identifiable data for the next in a never ending lineup of crummy amc’s, tech companies, and various middle manager partners has left the appraisal community ultra vulnerable to hacking, spoofing, data scraping, scamming, the list is long. The mode which the majority of mortgage lending appraisers operate under is grossly inadequate in terms of data security.

      A quality lending client will not ask you to go through some obscure third party. Plain and simple. If you’re in a position where you need new clients and additional assignments, signing up with third parties whom are not well established is the wrong move. Additionally if appraisers had a more thorough understanding of regulatory requirements they’d see through this sort of scam before ever making it to the sign up screen.

      All the indications of fraud are there. Mention of outdated regulatory structure. An improperly presented function of the client relationship and a third party tech servicer. Confusion between a tech relay service and a licensed amc company. A slue of poor english statements with improper grammar. A bundle of false reviews without detailed identifiable information, not linked to any other site, obviously false claims. How could a company like this have existed for over 5 years and we had not heard of them before? How could this company have existed that long when per the wayback machine (learn to use it), the domain was for sale only late last year? Why did the website fail mail security parameters per the dns toolbox links (learn to use whoi’s systems).

      How could appraisers even come close to falling for this in the first place if they are taking the time to be professional independents in a digital world already rife with fraud on every corner?

      Expect more of the same. There was also a clever post by someone obviously not an appraiser in a recent thread about the same time as this, asking for an apprentice with some corporate business structure or something. Logical fault. Probably tied to this scam and that might be awareness testing seeking penetration. Appraisers whom have been sent this invite are likely to have been played before or as speculated above, one of their various fast and loose middle manager contacts had been previously hacked or had data penetration.

      The scope of data penetration is so vast, it’s important to catch up now before you’re the next victim. If you may have even filled out any data in screen, even if you did not click send, it’s a possibility they’ve keylogged all that data and you are now on an updated valid point of contact target list which will likely be shared and shared again. Demand your lender clients stop putting appraisers through the ringer and seek out direct assignment companies instead. Avoiding amc’s and unnecessary third party services has benefits beyond just the fee and client relationships.

      Hey, by the way, what’s your fee and turn time? You’d have to be willing to answer that question to have filled that out in the first place. Quality clients don’t ask like that. This industry lost its focus on professionalism and accountability. If you presume this bait website is ran by a small fry individual, well it could be, but that would be a dangerous presumption. Scamming poorly educated internet users is a multi billion dollar a year industry which will soon exceed known activities like sports and other business sectors, hacking already outpaces the global drug trade.

      Now I’m on 10ware and am going to have to look at blackbird or something. And from what I’ve heard, I may have a lot of additional work when using updated alamode systems to keep real time activity and location tracking down. A lot of time on Ask Woody I suppose. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to sort out legitimate companies against illegitimate ones, being that all of them are casting away constitutional privacy as if that is a non issue. Privacy matters, don’t take it for granted or like the appraisers whom did fill out the forms for this scam, they’ll turn around and be surprised to find out they gave it away without regard. Once you’re the victim of an identity hacker, you have to change numbers and email and they troll you for life. Check your emails on the have I been pwned website. They’ll research your online presence and hit you from multiple fronts if they learn you’re willing to share data with strangers and extend trust just because they presented as a business rather than an individual, or vice versa. No easy answers except to put a lock down on your personal data and stop sharing it. If you don’t meet people in person, qualify them thoroughly first.

      https://www.appknox.com/blog/united-states-cyber-security-laws

      Being that we’ve never read about a security breach from any amc or big box tech relay companies, one presumes they’re simply not following breach notification laws because it’s highly improbable none of them have ever been hacked. Many of those bozo’s can’t even manage accounting. If you’re concerned about data security you naturally shy away from unnecessary middle managers. I never got that invite, can you perhaps speculate why…

      1
  14. Avatar Robin Carpenter says:

    Thank you for reinforcing what I thought. I’m in Florida and got the “invitation”. As soon as I saw the $39 fee and request for a credit card number I wanted no part of it.

    1
  15. Avatar David Eaton says:

    Just received the letter a few days ago. Called the number and got a canned voice reply. Got very suspicious when they weren’t listed as an AMC. Thanks for affirming what I suspected. Hope not too many appraisers got scammed.

    1

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Beware of Spot Value Solicitations

by AppraisersBlogs time to read: 2 min