Saturday, May 05, 2007

Watch Out For Well Known Home Repair Scams

"Spring is a time of renewal, change, and new beginnings. Unfortunately, it's also a time when crooked contractors come out of the woodwork to prey on innocent homeowners", reports, which has an article that sets forth a half dozen often used home improvement scams, how to recognize them, and how to protect yourself from them. For more, see 6 sleazy home improvement scams.

New Jersey Contractor Cons Two Out Of Their Homes; Uses Straw Buyer To Cash In

Oscar Brown, a Jersey City contractor and owner of Divine Developers, was arrested late last month on charges he conned two homeowners out of their residences and then sold them to a straw buyer in order to "cash in" on the alleged swindle, according to a story in The Jersey Journal. He was charged with theft by deception stemming from the false documents and false representations he made to the mortgage companies.

According to a county prosecutor, it was only when the bank began foreclosure proceedings after being stiffed by the straw buyer that the real owners learned they no longer owned their homes. Both homeowners had to obtain court orders to keep from losing their homes.

Reportedly, Brown persuaded the two homeowners to sign over the deeds to their property when they couldn't afford to pay for work he performed. They were told that it was an interim solution while they worked to get a loan to cover the construction bill, according to authorities.

For more, see Call contractor a $$$ trickster (Two nearly lost homes to scheme).

Suspected Home Repair Scammers Victimize Elderly Couple

A story by KRNV-TV Channel 4 in Reno, Nevada serves as another reminder to approach with suspicion unsolicited visitors knocking on the front door of your home offering to provide services that will purportedly help you avoid trouble.

According to detectives, four men approached an elderly couple and told them their home was not up to code and offered to make the "necessary" repairs so as to avoid inspectors from "red tagging" the residence.

The elderly couple then reportedly paid the suspects more than $12,000. The suspects then came with a crew of laborers and did some yard work, scraped some paint from the house and worked on porch repairs. The couple reportedly saw one of the suspects come down from the home's second floor where jewelry and coins were later reported missing. The suspects failed to return the following day to complete the work for which they had been paid and haven't been seen since.

For more, see Reno Police Looking for Home Improvement Scam Suspects.

Indiana Man Charged With Home Repair Fraud

Dennis D. Sayers, of Arcadia, Indiana, was arrested by Indiana State Police for home improvement fraud, among other charges on Thursday, according to a story in The Indianapolis Star. With respect to the home improvement fraud charge, Sayers was accused of taking $3,500 in advance from a homeowner to do work on a New Palestine, Indiana home. The homeowner reportedly told police that Sayers set up scaffolding and tore off some siding and never returned. Subsequent bad weather then destroyed part of the home where the siding had been removed. For more, see Home contractor charged with fraud.

Free Home Repairs For Two Dozen South Florida Homes

Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit organization that makes free repairs to seniors' homes, coordinated home repairs for two dozen families in need through their Broward County and Miami-Dade County chapters last week. These chapters were among 240 chapters nationwide that revamped the homes of the elderly, disabled and families with children -- the organization's principal beneficiaries. Lowe's home improvement store participated in the South Florida effort. For more, see:


Free Home Repair Program Launched in Fort Wayne

The Journal Gazette reports that volunteers, city officials, charities and churches in Fort Wayne, Indiana have come together to launch a free home repair program that will try to offer an ongoing solution to the problem of low income homeowners ordered by local code enforcement agents to make unaffordable home repairs. For more, see Volunteers nail down details of citywide home repair plan.

Friday, May 04, 2007

New Century Financial Corporation - RIP

HousingWire reports on the one-time subprime mortgage darling, New Century Financial Corporation:
  • "News broke late yesterday that New Century will shutter the rest of its business, laying off the remaining 2,000 employees it had been keeping in hopes of finding a buyer."

For more, see Game Over: New Century Won’t Be Bought.

Southwest Florida Builder, Brokers Named Again In Another Lawsuit Alleging Real Estate Fraud

A Lehigh Acres, Florida couple alleges in a real estate fraud lawsuit that the value of eight properties they bought from First Home Builders was falsely inflated by three real estate appraisers in Lee County to support a construction loan, according to a report in The News-Press of Southwest Florida. The purchases were reportedly made in connection with a real estate investment program formerly operated by D'Alessandro & Woodyard Commercial Realtors.

Named in the suit are First Home Builders of Florida, First Mortgage Lenders of Florida LLC, real estate brokerage D'Alessandro & Woodyard, its broker Frank D'Alessandro and real estate agent Samir Cabrera, Gary Ouellette, Honora Kreitner, real estate appraisers Gary Neese, William Meador and Gulf Coast Appraisal and Associates, Primary Mortgage Funding Inc., Norlarco Credit Union, and First Home Title, Inc. D'Alessandro is a weekly real estate columnist for the The News-Press.

The allegations contained in the lawsuit include (1) fraud in the inducement, (2) civil conspiracy, (3) breach of contract, (4) negligent misrepresention, (5) recission, (6) misleading advertising, and (7) violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act.

Representing the plaintiff is attorney Gary F. Ritter, with Thompson Law Firm, Bonita Springs, Florida.

First Home Builders, the real estate brokerage, and Cabrera are currently defendants in another lawsuit brought by a Broward County, Florida couple that also reportedly involved the investment program that was operated by D'Alessandro & Woodyard.

Buried in an April 28 article by The News-Press (which reports that Cabrera is a defendant in a $13+ million foreclosure action filed by an entity controlled by D'Alessandro), Cabrera and D’Alessandro are reportedly named as defendants in six lawsuits alleging securities fraud, mortgage fraud and breach of contract in connection with sales to investors of homes built by First Home Builders in Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres in 2005 and 2006 (see Suit filed against broker’s agent - Lenders seek foreclosure action).

For the copy of the Lehigh Acres couple's lawsuit, see Schmidt vs. D'Alessandro & Woodyard Commercial Realtors, First Home Builders, et al.

For the current article on the Lehigh Acres couple's lawsuit, see Lawsuit alleges appraisals inflated.

For the previous article on the Broward County couple's lawsuit, see First Home Builders dispute could lead to class-action lawsuit (Broward couple claim fraud in loans for three First Home properties in Lee).

For other posts on First Home Builders, see Securities / Mortgage Fraud Suit Filed Against Florida Builder, Bank, Broker.

For a prior post on the ongoing real estate flipping in Southwest Florida involving allegedly inflated appraisals, see Flipping Deals Running Rampant In Southwest Florida.

(this is an updated post - originally posted 5/3/07 - 1:55 pm)

Pennsylvania Woman Charged With Stealing $100K From Mom

Michelle Yoter, of Bethel, Pennsylvania, was charged with stealing about $100,000 from her mother, according to a report in the Lebanon Daily News. Included in the alleged theft were the proceeds from the sale of the mother's home. Reportedly, according to court records:
  • Yoter tried to keep her mother from contacting other relatives, keeping them unaware of her whereabouts or what she was doing with her mother's property,
  • The mother stayed with Yoter in her Bethel home for several months, allegedly without medication or adequate food,
  • It wasn't until the mother fell and broke her arm and was taken to a hospital that she was able to contact other family members.

For more, see Area woman accused of ripping off her mother.


Some Mortgage Market Players Agree On Bailout Principles To Apply To Help Struggling Homeowners

Several major participants in the home mortgage market have agreed to adopt a set of principles for dealing with homeowners facing foreclosure due to subprime mortgage loans, according to an Associated Press article appearing on the website of the Florida Association of Realtors. Such voluntary action by mortgage lenders and other players are preferable to any government bailout to cover mortgage loans in default, according to Senator Chris Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Those agreeing to the principles include the Mortgage Bankers Association; Wall Street powerhouses Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. HSBC Holdings Corp. and Bear Stearns & Co.; government-sponsored mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; AARP; and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Several activist and community groups receive money from financial institutions and work with homeowners to refinance high-rate loans.

Some companies, however, including Countrywide Financial Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co., did not endorse the principles. For more, see Several players in home mortgage market agree on principles for borrowers in trouble.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Georgia Police Chief Accused Of Stealing House

Carver Bible College Police Chief Joseph Woods is accused of stealing the home of a deceased Fulton County grandmother and may face possible criminal charges today in connection with alleged mortgage fraud, according to a report by Investigative Reporter Dale Cardwell of WSB-TV Channel 2 in Atlanta, Georgia. According to the report:
  • Woods is the leader of a local police department that employs a number of officers facing criminal charges such as murder and assault,
  • he was already accused of theft by deception and is now looking at an additional charge possibly being tacked on,
  • the warranty deed which made Woods the owner appears to be a fraud, and
  • since an interview with Channel 2, Woods has told the family he wants to give the house back.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard is calling for anybody else who may be familiar with Woods and this kind of practice to come forward and speak to the D.A.’s office to determine if he’s done this kind of thing before.

Go here to watch the WSB-TV Channel 2 report (video no longer available) or, to read the text of the report, see Local Police Chief Accused Of Stealing House.

Homeowners Invoking "Truth In Lending" Rights To Back Out Of Bad Loans

CBS5 in San Francisco, California reports:
  • "This may be the life preserver for homeowners about to sink-- a way to strike back at shady loan brokers who mislead people about the true cost of their mortgage loans."
  • "Federal Truth in Lending documents that are required with every refinanced loan give homeowners a greatly expanded right to cancel if the documents are not exactly right."
  • "How much extended time? Try three years from the date of the loan."

In this report, attorney William Purdy from the Santa Cruz law firm of Simmons and Purdy, who reportedly with his law partner have hundreds of cases of Truth in Lending violations, is interviewed.

Also covered in the report is another case where The Fair Housing Law Project of the non-profit agency The Law Foundation, which provides free legal services to Silicon Valley individuals in need, is suing a broker and lender on behalf of a consumer borrower for Truth In Lending violations.

Purdy says the Truth in Lending Act is not a way of getting out of debt -- but it can be a way of getting out of a bad loan, and it essentially depends on whether the lenders got sloppy with the right-to-cancel document required to be given to refinancing homeowners. (The part of the law being enforced in these cases only applies to homeowners who are refinancing; it does not apply on purchase transactions.)

To watch the report, by CBS5's Tony Russomanno, see CBS5 Video - Bay Area Homeowners Backing Out Of Bad Loans, (then, click "Play") or

Go here for the text of the story - Bay Area Homeowners Backing Out.

For a related article, see Finding a legal escape clause (Attorney rescues homeowners from loans they can't afford)

For a story involving law firm Simmons & Purdy that resulted in the arrest of mortgage broker Altaf Abdulrehman Shaikh (alias Zak Kahn) for allegedly ripping off homeowners in mortgage transactions, see DA: Scammer sought to bilk homeowners.

Go here for more posts on homeowners who have refinanced into bad mortgage loans and are now using the Federal TILA to try and undo the bad loans.

Editor's Note

Using the Federal Truth In Lending Act is also being used by financially strapped homeowners to void sale leaseback, repurchase option deals entered into with foreclosure rescue operators. See, for example,

Option ARMs The Target Of Homeowners' "Truth In Lending" Lawsuits

Buried in a recent column appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle is a mention of attorney Jeffrey Berns, of Tarzana, California (Los Angeles County) who is preparing to file Federal Truth In Lending Act lawsuits on behalf of hundreds of borrowers who took out option ARMs. According to the column:
  • "Berns says he is going to file cases in state court alleging violations of federal truth-in-lending laws as well as deceptive practices, fraud and negligent or intentional misrepresentation."
  • "Berns, who is working on a contingency basis, says many lawyers are not willing to take on these cases. They can be difficult to win because "the disclosures are there, they're just buried in more than 100 pages of documents.""
According to Tom Pool, spokesman for the California Department of Real Estate, "State courts have found that mortgage brokers are fiduciaries in these types of transactions."

Reportedly, a state judge in Wisconsin recently ruled in favor of borrowers who had taken out option ARMs offered by Chevy Chase Bank that violated three provisions of the Federal Truth in Lending Act. The case was ultimately certified as a class action lawsuit. According to Milwaukee attorney Kevin Demet, who represented the homeowners, the size of the class could reach 7,000 to 8,000 people nationwide who took out the Chevy Chase option ARM in the year leading up to April 2005.

For more, see Subprime crisis offers a chance to step up.

For stories on the Chevy Chase, option ARM class action lawsuit, see:

Go here for more posts on homeowners who have refinanced into bad mortgage loans and are now using the Federal TILA to try and undo the bad loans. undo mortgage loans TILA alpha

Lawyer Gets 3+ Years In Jail In Flipping Fraud

Vishnu Rajendra Poonai (aka Joey Poonai), a lawyer in Canada since 1992, was led away in handcuffs after being sentenced to 3 1/2 years on each of five counts of fraud, with the sentences to be served concurrently. The court found Poonai benefited financially from the flipping frauds totaling $5 million that involved 18 properties that were purchased, then sold again right away at "highly inflated" values. Mortgages were issued-- to either fictitious people or through identity theft-- based on the inflated prices and when the mortgages fell into default, the banks were left holding the bag. For more, see Disbarred lawyer sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail, reported by The Brampton Guardian.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sacramento Area Real Estate Group Accused Of Duping Investors

A recent report by Investigative Reporter Josh Bernstein of KCRA-TV Channel 3 in Sacramento, California describes an alleged mortgage fraud scam where seven unsophisticated investors where lured into a "real estate investment opportunity" where they purchased over twenty homes, and then were left with their credit destroyed and stuck with unrented homes and unaffordable mortgage payments. The real estate group who is accused of providing the investment opportunity, reportedly made all the arrangements in the investors' purchase of the homes, including allegedly submitting false loan applications on behalf of the investors. Those identified by the investors as being involved in the alleged fraud scheme are:

  • James Martin (aka Jim Martin), VFM Investment Group LLC, Gabriel Viramontes, Freedom Capital Mortgage, Inc., Joseph S. Gallo, Esnian Mortgage & Realty Network, Mario Fellini III, real estate agent Yajen Huang (aka Jennifer Huang), and others.

An impromptu, on camera interview was attempted with some of the accused at their office; however, they didn't seem to interested in answering any questions. While their attorney agreed to appear on camera, he didn't seemed to relish the opportunity to answer Josh Bernstein's questions, either (he sounded like he had "marbles in his mouth" and he looked like "a deer caught in the headlights." I actually felt sorry for him. He looked like a young guy; maybe he needed to earn the legal fees from representing these clients so he could pay his own mortgage.)

All the investors have reportedly filed lawsuits. A lawsuit filed by one of the investors is currently pending in Sacremento County, California Superior Court alleging fraud, constructive fraud and breach of fiduciary duty, civil conspiracy, negligent misrepresentation, and unlicensed practice of law, among other claims against some or all of the above named accused. Representing the investor in this lawsuit are Dennis B. Hill and Andrew E. Bakos of Hill Law Firm, Lincoln, California.

To read that lawsuit, see Romano vs. Martin, et al. (6.51 MB)

Go here to watch the KCRA3 report by Josh Bernstein (no longer available online).

North Carolina Home Flipper Leaves Investors "Holding The Bag"

The Fayette Observer recently reported on the story of Eric Omar Jones, a businessman who started a now-defunct company he named U.H.K. Investments — for “University of Hard Knocks.”

Reportedly, he was at the center of more than 100 house flipping deals in North Carolina in Cumberland, Hoke, Moore, Robeson and Sampson counties. At least 53 of the homes ended up falling into foreclosure, The Observer found. Many of the investors he recruited ended up "holding the bag", owning homes in disrepair with mortgages that they couldn't afford to pay.

While he admits he made business mistakes, Jones denies misleading investors. He hasn’t been charged with crimes, though the FBI has apparently investigated. For more, see Easy money, hard lessons.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

16 Unlicensed Contractors "Stung" By Cops

Westchester County, New York police detectives, posing as the owners of a county-owned, rundown home, arrested 16 unlicensed contractors after requesting and obtaining bids for repair work on the home from them, reports and The Journal News.

The three week sting operation used a three story house in Yorktown, NY and captured the suspects on video. Among those arrested were two who were already on the county's Renegade Renovator list of contractors who have generated repeated consumer complaints.

"This was the first-ever sting in Westchester, but it won't be the last," according to GaryBrown, Westchester County's director of consumer protection. "Let the unlicensed contractor beware."

For the whole story, see:


South Florida Mortgage Broker, Others Accused In Foreclosure Rescue, Equity Stripping Lawsuit

An elderly South Florida homeowner currently has a civil lawsuit pending alleging that (1) she was victimized by a foreclosure rescue group in a sale-leaseback-option to repurchase deal that resulted in her being stripped of most of the equity in her home, and (2) she was scammed allegedly:
  • through the use of false statements and representations,
  • through the imposition of false charges on a HUD-1 closing statement,
  • through the use of a forged document, and
  • by taking advantage of her lack of financial sophistication.

The homeowner named as defendants in her lawsuit Boca Raton, Florida mortgage broker Nicole Smith, her husband Mauricio N. Smith, mortgage brokerage Signature Lending Group, Inc., Deborah O'Hara (with addresses in Coral Springs, Florida and Brooklyn, New York), and two instituitional lenders among others in which she is seeking relief for:

  • violations of the Federal Truth In Lending Act and Regulation Z,
  • violations of the Federal Home Owners Equity and Protection Act,
  • violations of the Florida state law prohibiting usury,
  • common law fraud (seeking rescission and damages),
  • breach of contract, and
  • quieting the title to her home (quiet title action).

Representing the homeowner in this lawsuit are The Law Offices of Sherri B. Simpson, P.A. of Fort Lauderdale, FL and James A. Bonfiglio, P.A., of Boynton Beach, FL.


More On New Generation Funding, NYC Bangladeshi Mortgage Fraud Case

The New York City property flipping, mortgage fraud scam reported here last week involved the mortgage brokerage New Generation Funding, Bangladesh nationals and members of the New York City area Bangladeshi community who were recruited and paid $5,000 per deal to act as straw buyers. The scam ensnared legitimate mortgage lenders, including American Home Mortgage, Argent Mortgage, Long Beach Mortgage Company Fremont Investment and Loan, Aurora Loan Services, BNC Mortgage, Lehman Brothers Bank, Webster Bank, HSBC Bank, New Century Mortgage (R.I.P.), WMC Mortgage Company, GFI Mortgage Bankers, Inc., Alliance Mortgage Banking Corp., and Equifirst Corp.

The following individuals being criminally charged in Brooklyn Federal Court last week:
  • Mohitul Islam, Mohammed Zubair Hossain, Lalon Ahmed, Mohammed Jewel, Mehdi Hasan, Iqbal Hasan, Humayun Kabir, Togor ( last name unknown), Golam Bahauddin Sadi, and Mizanur Rahman.

The basis for the criminal complaint filed by authorities comes from information from an unnamed "confidential witness", identified as CW1, who was a partner in the mortgage fraud, who has already agreed to plead guilty, and has also agreed to "sing" to the Feds in exchange for a lesser sentence for his/her role in the scam. In addition, there are three additional unnamed confidential witnesses, CW2 and CW3 (both of whom have pleaded guilty to fraud charges in a related investigation and have agreed to "sing" to investigators in the hopes of getting lighter sentences), and CW4.

Red flags were raised when two of the victimized mortgage companies noticed high rates of default on the New Generation-originated mortgages; they subsequently found a fraudulent pattern of employment and income information when they audited the corresponding mortgage applications. At that point, the two mortgage companies called in law enforcement.

Described in the criminal complaint are undercover stings that are captured on video, involving confidential witness CW1 and an undercover FBI agent pretending to be a notary public and title closer at a simulated property sale closing.

One element of the alleged scam, as described in the criminal complaint, was the use of "short sales", in which the one member of the alleged conspiracy would negotiate a discounted payoff from the mortgage lender on a loan secured by a particular property controlled by the alleged fraud group. After successfully negotiating the "short pay" and re-taking control of the property for a fraction of what was owed, the property could then be resold to another straw buyer a significantly higher price, thereby "recycling" the property through the alleged fraud group's operation all over again.

For the full story (at least the version filed by the FBI Special Agent in the case), see the Criminal Complaint filed by Federal prosecutors, U.S.A. vs. Hossain, et al.

For media reports on this story, see:


New York Attorney Discipline Committee Keeping Busy

In a recent article, The New York Daily News reports on the work of the attorney Disciplinary Commitee of one Department of the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court.

Thomas Cahill, chief counsel for the Disciplinary Committee of the Division's 1st Department, which covers Manhattan and the Bronx, is interviewed for the Daily News story. His office, which polices the 76,777 lawyers in Manhattan and the Bronx, has a staff that includes 20 full-time attorneys, many of whom are former prosecutors, investigators, an accountant and paralegals. It handles about 3,500 matters a year in a complex process that begins with screening of complaints.

Most ripoffs by attorneys involve theft from escrow accounts and trusts and estates or billing for work that wasn't done, according to an analysis by The Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection of the State of New York. Among the examples of attorney misconduct cited in the article include incidents where:

  • an attorney deposited over $470,000 from the proceeds of a home sale in Peekskill, New York into his business checking account and gave the homeowner a rubber check for the proceeds of the home sale,
  • the same attorney, who failed to remit to his clients the $354,900 proceeds from the sale of an Italian restaurant (he pocketed $319,000; the balance is reportedly still being traced),
  • an attorney who pleaded guilty to participating in a $750,000 mortgage scam,
  • an attorney who reportedly represented approximately 200 clients buying real estate who had her clients buy title services at a company next door that she also owned, which the New York State Appellate Court judges called "an impermissible conflict of interest."

The article also cites the variety of excuses that the rogue attorneys offer up when they get nailed. For more, see Rotten lawyers face raft of raps in ripoffs.

For information on filing attorney grievances and obtaining relief from dishonest attorney conduct in New York State, see:

Go here for stories on other alleged escrow agent mishandling of funds. sneaky slick escrow agents alpha


Monday, April 30, 2007

Channel 2 News "Sting" Two Foreclosure Rescue Operators

In Southern California, local television station CBS 2 and its investigation team led by investigative reporter David Goldstein set up hidden cameras in a Whittier, California home and caught two foreclosure rescue, mortgage consultants seeking to charge upfront fees to help a homeowner facing foreclosure, according to a report on Channel 2's website at According to the report:

  • "The real homeowner is facing foreclosure. That information is made public so she has received hundreds of flyers from people offering to help. But we hired this actress to pose as the homeowner and watched from the back room as we invited foreclosure experts in to hear their pitch."
This is the first "foreclosure rescue sting" caught on video that I have come across. I suspect that these "caught-on-video stings" of foreclosure rescue operators will become more and more frequent. If anyone knows of any foreclosure rescue stings on video that are available online, please let me know at For more on this story, see:

Editor's Note:

California has specific statutes strictly regulating foreclosure rescue purchasers and mortgage foreclosure consultants who approach homeowners facing foreclosure seeking to do business with them.


Central Florida Homeowners Victimized By Foreclosure Rescue Operator

Reports of two financially strapped Central Florida homeowners allegedly having their home equity stripped from them by a foreclosure rescue operator is the subject of a Local 6 News investigation by WKMG-TV Channel 6 in Orlando, Florida. Reportedly, both homeowners lost their homes and the entire equity that they had accumulated in them.

Local attorney Austin Aaronson is reportedly fighting the equity stripping issue for over a dozen clients.

Local 6 Emmy Award winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld brought his findings to state Rep. Bryan Nelson of Apopka, who is currently co-sponsoring legislation that will create criminal penalties for equity deception schemes in Florida.

For more, see Homeowners Warned Of Equity Stripping.

(revised 4-30-07 12:26 am)

California Foreclosure Rescue, Equity Stripping Warning, Consultant Jailed

In California, an Associated Press appears in the Ventura County Star that warns:

  • "The potential for real estate fraud has soared, driven by a surge in default notices sent to thousands of struggling California homeowners during the past several months."

  • "Real estate scams prey on the trust of people in desperate situations. These so-called foreclosure consultants make false promises, giving homeowners the impression that they can improve their credit or pay off their properties in full, with the intent to swindle homeowners out of large amounts of money or, in some cases, their homes."

For more, including the story of an equity stripping victim who lost her home and equity to a forecloure rescue "consultant" (who has since been sentenced to three years and eight months in prison), see:


Foreclosure Rescue Scammer Pleads Guilty To Felony Theft

A Prince George's County, Maryland homeowner facing foreclosure got a flier in the mail from Perver Taylor offering financial help, according to a story by investigative reporter Darcy Spencer, of WRC-TV Channel 4 in Washington, D.C. The homeowner responded, but instead of helping her, Taylor proceeded to victimize the homeowner in a foreclosure rescue scam in which she lost her home and the entire equity she had accumulated in it. Taylor pleaded guilty to felony theft and faces up to 10 years in prison when he's sentenced in August. For the whole story, see:

For the Maryland statute regulating foreclosure rescue operators, see the Maryland Real Property Law, Title 7, Subtitle 3 - Protection of Homeowners in Foreclosure (Sections 7-301 through 7-321). (Each section of the statute has its own link).


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Massachusetts Banking Officials To Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure

Following a protest at the Statehouse on Thursday by homeowners facing foreclosure, Massachusettts Governor Deval Patrick has directed state banking officials to help homeowners negotiate mortgage payment terms to avoid foreclosure, according to an Associated Press article appearing in the Boston Globe.

Reportedly, the Massachusetts Division of Banks has already secured 60 to 90 day freezes on the foreclosures on behalf of 11 of the protesters and will help other homeowners having trouble with their mortgages by providing housing counselors or contacting their lenders to stop or delay foreclosures, according to Steven Antonakes, the Commisioner of Banks. For more, see Patrick directs state to help homeowners.

Donkey Testifies On Attorney's Behalf

In another story having nothing to do with this blog, the Associated Press reports that:
  • "Faced with complaints that his donkey was too loud, attorney Gregory Shamoun decided to bring his case directly to the court: He had the donkey testify."

No word on how Buddy the Donkey held up on cross examination, but reportedly the litigants settled the matter while the jurors were deliberating. For more, see Attorney brings donkey to testify on own behalf in court, reported by Daily Report.


Weekend I.D. Theft Blotter

Some of the highlights of the week's identity theft stories follow: