Being a Realtor, I sympathize with your desire to get results that are honest. Having visited Realtytrac-listed properties and found that no sale was anticipated or desired by the owner, I was frustrated and checked into why the property was listed in the first place.
Companies like Realtytrac put properties on their list based on reported notices of foreclosure. Their lists also includes actual listings of properties for sale after foreclosure and other listings, which can create confusion.
When a bank is not paid their mortgage payments on time, they normally contact the mortgagor to find out what the problem is. After at least 30 days has passed without payment, the mortgagee posts a courthouse notice of foreclosure. Depending on the state, this could be a notice of trustee sale or just a public notice that the property might be foreclosed if the breach is not cured.
Postings of this type are useful for investors who are looking for an early warning that a property might become available later. Some investors use this information to initiate contact with the mortgagor to see if they can relieve the pressure by offering to buy the property at a discount prior to foreclosure. Many, many times the mortgagor cures the breach by paying the back payments, or occasionally by reaching an accord with the mortgagee. A foreclosure sale in these cases never occurs.
For normal people (not investors) who are looking for properties for sale this can be frustrating because they fully expect to find a yard sign out in front of the property with a listing agent or brokerage prominently posted. They expect a price to be associated with the possible sale of the property and often neither of these is the fact. Personally having complained about the lack of corrections, I was told that they had fulfilled their obligation by annotating the property as a notice of foreclosure, not a property for sale. Because the notice was never acted on, it would appear that the information was a scam. However, circumstances do change for people in trouble with their mortgages, and it is difficult to believe that anybody, especially Realtytrac, would publish data that they knew to be false. You have to read the fine print.
To improve the reputation of companies that utilize notices of foreclosure, those companies should go back and pull the properties so listed when the notice is withdrawn or the breach cured by the mortgagor. Unfortunately, they are not notified indirectly or directly that the foreclosure was put off or the breach cured, and they don't spend any time researching already listed properties. This shortcoming may impugn the value of such listings, but probably does not constitute a scam, despite the frustration it engenders.
Take every bit of data you read with a grain of salt.
Even broker listings get out of date or out of sync with the current situation. A price may change. An error may have been made initially. A property may be withdrawn from sale. Errors can also creep in on property data, like room sizes, amenities, nearby facilities and so on, or even who the listing broker or agent currently is because it changed.
Your best bet is to use a Realtor, who can access up to date information. With that said, agents sometimes get behind in updating whether a property has a contract pending. Moreover, seldom do agents update whether a contract is in negotiation but not yet pending. Still, a Realtor is your most reliable source, not a website on the Internet.