As a lessee-optionee, the only way to avoid being a victim in an equity-skimming scam is to require that all lease payments be made directly to a licensed loan-servicing company. For example, the loan-servicing company would take the money they receive from you as lease payments and use it to make loan payments directly to the lender. This way, you have verifiable proof that the loan payment is being made, and you are not funding the property owner's equity-skimming scam. The following web sites are for two licensed loan-servicing companies that provide service nationwide:
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