The foreclosure rescue expert advertising his services on late night TV ("Save your home for pennies of what you owe!") knows that times are tough. So does the real estate mogul who promises in daily e-mails to teach you how to make millions from home by simply following the instructions in his new DVD. Foreclosures are up. Employment is down. Credit is tight. But in a recession, these self-appointed saviors see opportunity: The economic downturn has made Americans ripe for a rip-off.
"Scams work by taking advantage of people's vulnerability," says Alison Southwick of the Better Business Bureau. "In a recession, there are a lot more vulnerable people."
America's financial freefall has spawned a wave of scams in which con artists prey on unsuspecting victims, many of whom act against their better judgment in hopes of saving their home, climbing out of debt or finding a job.
Here are 10 of the most common recession-era scams -- listed in no particular order -- and tips for avoiding them.