With the housing market in decline, financial predators are finding different ways to take advantage of people who fall behind on their payments, the New York Times reported. The schemes take various forms and often involve promises to distressed homeowners of cash up-front, free monthly rent and a chance to retain their houses in the long run. But in the process, someone else takes over the deed, borrows as much as possible against the value of the house and pockets the cash while the homeowners still end up losing their homes. There are no nationwide numbers on this common fraud, known as equity stripping, but it has turned up in almost every state. Seven states have passed laws to try to stop it. Still, with foreclosure rates rising rapidly, it will be a growing problem, consumer advocates say. “Conditions now are perfect for these scams,” said Lauren K. Saunders, managing attorney at the National Consumer Law Center in Washington, D.C. “We are at the end of a period of rising real estate prices, so a lot of people have equity in their homes. But we also have a foreclosure crisis.” Victims are becoming more plentiful as homeowners fall behind on payments and find that they cannot refinance, with mortgage rates rising. The Mortgage Bankers Association recently disclosed that nearly 19 percent of all loans to less-creditworthy consumers, or 1.1 million mortgages, were either delinquent by more than 30 days or in foreclosure. This is up from 17.9 percent last year.