Some homeowners are receiving help from a mysterious firm offering discounts on their mortgages. In an unusual relationship between Wall Street and homeowners, investment funds have begun buying home loans at a discounted rate, and passing along the savings. What homeowners don't realize is that these "vulture" funds, as they're known in the industry, are profiting from taking on the loans by refinancing through lenders that work with government agencies such as the Federal Housing Administration, which then sell them as securities to investors. In doing so, these funds shift the risk of the loans to the federal government and, something the American public knows all too well now, taxpayers. “From the systemic point of view, there is something disturbing about investors that had substantial short-term profit in backing toxic loans now swooping down to make another profit on cleaning up that mess,” said a financial industry consultant.