The Ventura County District Attorney's Real Estate Fraud Unit is trying to teach the public how to detect and report real estate fraud. The unit has about 100 cases pending. Some suspects will be sentenced this month. Many of cases involve "Foreclosure Rescue Fraud. " Some of the con artists prey on seniors and people who don't speak English. The Fraud Unit has put con artists who advertise on the radio and in the newspaper out of business. In some cases the victims have received their money back. Deputy District Attorney Dominic Kardum says you should never pay up-front fees for foreclosure, short sale or loan modification assistance. Homeowners should know that requesting the fees upfront is illegal. Kardum also says you should never sign documents you haven't read or don't understand. You should contact your lender and do your homework by checking the license of the people you choose to do business with. That's something you should be able to do online. Ventura County's Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team known as REFAT has set up a referral hotline at (805)751-5899 and a website. You can also get free assistance from non profits such as Surepath Financial Solutions ( and Cabrillo Economic Development. ( <a href="" target="_blank">Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team</a><a href="" target="_blank">SurePath Financial Solutions</a><a href="" target="_blank">Cabrillo Economic Developement</a>