Saturday, March 29, 2008

CBS Evening News On Tenants Losing Their Homes In "No-Fault Foreclosure Evictions"

The CBS Evening News recently ran a story on tenants facing evictions due to rent skimming landlords who are facing foreclosure of their investment properties. Featured in the story is an Oakland, California area woman who is shortly expecting to give birth and has been given 30 days to vacate the premises. According to the story, thirty-eight percent of foreclosures now involve rental properties, estimated to be at least 168,000 households nationwide. In states as Nevada, Illinois and New York, the numbers are closer to 50%.

For the story, see Renters Caught Up In Foreclosure Crisis (38 Percent Of Foreclosed Properties Are Rentals, And Most Banks Won't Allow Tenants To Stay) (read story) (watch video).

For other posts involving the problems tenants face in homes in foreclosure, go here, go here, go here, go here, and go here. equity skimming unwittingly epsilon

Methuen To Consider Requiring Vacant Home Registration By Foreclosing Lenders

In Massachusetts, The Eagle Tribune reports:
  • The city of Methuen hopes a new foreclosure registration proposal could help officials prevent vacant buildings from falling into disrepair or being targeted by vandalism, crime or arson. The mayor wants to require banks and mortgage companies to register foreclosed properties and pay a fee to the city. He will present his plan to city councilors and the public at a workshop April 2 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. The city of Lawrence recently passed a similar law. The Boston City Council is also working on a similar proposal. [...] "The biggest problem with foreclosure is there's no one for us to talk to," said Councilor Joseph Leone. "The rules make somebody accountable. These buildings have to be controlled."

For more, see Proposal will make banks register foreclosed buildings.

New Hampshire Attorney Guilty Of Extortion For Threatening To Sue Hair Salons, Then Pocketing Cash To "Settle Claims"

In New Hampshire, the Concord Monitor reports:
  • A Manchester lawyer who threatened to sue a Concord salon for pricing haircuts differently for men and women and then took money to settle the matter was found guilty of theft by extortion. A jury took about 1½ hours to convict Daniel Hynes, 27, [earlier this month]. Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Baker said Hynes sent letters to at least 19 salons in the state.

  • One arrived Dec. 20, 2006, at Claudia's, the North Main Street hair salon owned by Claudia Lambert. In the letter, Hynes said prices should be based on the time a cut takes or on the length of hair, instead of on gender. He wrote: "I demand payment in the amount of $1,000 in order to avoid litigation," according to court documents. Lambert's husband, Ben Nardi, contacted the attorney general's office. He also contacted Hynes. After Hynes came to collect $500 at Nardi's Manchester real estate office, the police arrested him. The misdemeanor conviction carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Hynes said yesterday that he plans to appeal.


  • [NH Ass't. AG] Baker said that if Hynes wanted to push the salons to change their pricing, he could have sent the letters without demanding money. "It was an effort by an attorney to seemingly use his position as an attorney to demand money that he was not legally entitled to and to make threats of a bogus lawsuit," she said.

For more, see Lawyer guilty of salon extortion (He says conviction violates free speech).

Bank Fraud Investigator Gets 3+ Years For Squeezing Suspects, Pocketing $1.5M In Underreported Recoveries

In Portland, Oregon, The Associated Press reports:
  • A former U.S. Bank fraud investigator has been sentenced to more than three years is prison for embezzling $1.5 million he recovered from people accused of defrauding the bank. David A. Shelofsky, 39, of West Linn was the manager of the bank's asset forfeiture and recovery section when he stole the money between 2002 and 2005. He pleaded guilty in October 2006 and was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Garr King. Shelofsky went after bank customers and employees who had written bad checks or stolen the bank's money. He then negotiated with the suspects to recover assets or cash. Prosecutors said Shelofsky's scheme involved underreporting his recoveries to the bank.
For more, see Bank fraud investigator accused of stealing $1.5M.

Investigation Of Neighborhood Stench From Boarded Up Bank Foreclosure Reveals Remains Of 50 Cats

In New Haven, Connecticut, the New Haven Independent reports:
  • As the skeletal remains of 50 abandoned felines were removed from a foreclosed-upon Quinnipiac Avenue house Thursday, City Hall’s Andy Rizzo vowed that his anti-blight agency will take lessons from the episode as it confronts a new wave of abandoned homes. Rizzo, director of New Haven’s Liveable City Initiative (LCI), spoke at a press conference one day after neighbors alerted TV stations to an overpowering stench that led to the mound of cat remains in a basement apartment of the boarded-up house at 467 Quinnipiac Ave. The bank that foreclosed upon the house earlier this year sent a cleaning crew to remove the remains Thursday, Rizzo said. LCI had received repeated calls and emails from neighbors about the stink coming from the house, beginning last fall.


  • This isn’t the first cat-overrun hovel [police department’s animal control officer Stephani] Johnson has encountered. In the summer of 2007, for instance, she was called to a Girard Avenue home where 94 cats were living. She had them removed.

For more, see LCI: We’ll Learn From Cat-House Disaster.

For more on "foreclosure pets", go here and go here. petsII and foreclosures

Friday, March 28, 2008

State Anti-Predatory Lending Statute May Provide Effective Weapon For New York Homeowners Seeking To Undo A Bad Loan

A client newsletter from the law firm Kelley Drye & Warren LLP contains a discussion of a recent court decision by a New York State trial judge which applied a state anti-predatory lending statute in favor of the borrower and which potentially can leave mortgage lenders holding loans that were originated in violation of this statute holding the bag. The discussion begins as follows:
  • In an opinion that may well mark a rise in predatory lending claims and an expansion in the scope of lender liability, the New York Supreme Court recently found in favor of a homeowner who, in defending a motion for summary judgment in a foreclosure action, alleged that he was the victim of predatory lending practices prohibited by New York Banking Law §6-L. The court, in LaSalle Bank,N.A. v. Shearon, No. 100255/2007, 2008 WL 268449 (N.Y. Sup. Jan. 28, 2008), denied LaSalle’s motion and granted summary judgment for the homeowner based on his defenses under the state’s anti-predatory lending law. A hearing on damages is pending.

For more, including the reasons why the article's author believes the court’s decision in Shearon is noteworthy, see LaSalle Bank v. Shearon: A Harbinger of Things to Come (New York Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Borrower on Defensive Claims Under State’s Anti-Predatory Lending Law).

To view the trial judge's decision, see LaSalle Bank,N.A. v. Shearon, No. 100255/2007, 2008 WL 268449 (N.Y. Sup. Jan. 28, 2008).

For a February 3, 2008 media article from the Staten Island Advance reporting this story, see Stuck with a bad loan, a Staten Island family fights back (if link expires, try here).

See also, ABC News: Fighting Back Against Foreclosure (New York Judge Denies Foreclosure Based on Alleged Predatory Lending).

For other posts on homeowners using Federal & state consumer protection statutes to try and undo bad mortgage loans, Go Here, Go Here, and Go Here.

Editor's Note:

For those unfamiliar with the New York judicial system, the "New York Supreme Court" is simply what the state calls its trial courts, not to be confused with the state's highest court - the New York Court of Appeals. So, while this case could potentially have significant ramifications, it is simply one decision by one trial judge which has yet to be reviewed by a state intermediate appellate court or the state high court. While there may be cause for celebrating this case in the future, consumer advocates who have already begun wild celebrations may well consider "putting the cork back in the champagne bottle" for the time being. undo mortgage loans TILA batallion

Nashville-Area Foreclosure Rescue Operator Reportedly To Return Home Signed Away By Owner In Sale Leaseback Arrangement

In Nashville, Tennessee, Newschannel 5 reports on an experience that homeowner Thomas McKissack had with foreclosure rescue operator Sean Queen in a purported sale leaseback transaction in which McKissack, who was facing foreclosure, unwittingly signed away his home.
  • The letter [offering foreclosure help] came from Sean Queen, who owns a local real estate business. NewsChannel 5 Investigates found court papers that show Queen has been sued at least two different times for what's known as sale lease/back transactions. Court documents show Queen sent letters like the one McKissack received to people on the verge of foreclosure. They would sign a series of papers thinking they were getting a loan -- but in fact they signed away ownership of their home and agreed to become renters.



  • [A]fter NewsChannel 5 Investigates began questioning the deal Queen agreed to give McKissack his home. Queen's attorney is drawing up papers to transfer ownership back to McKissack. [...] As for Sean Queen, he says he is no longer in the real estate business. The McKissacks have hired an attorney and they say they are reviewing paperwork that would give Thomas McKissack the deed to his home once again.

For more, see Homeowners Unknowingly Sign Away Property (read story) (watch video).

Go here for an example of the type of letter Queen has been alleged to have sent to homeowners facing foreclosure (see page 2).

For a post involving a related story involving Sean Queen, see Tennessee Federal Court Invokes Equitable Mortgage Doctrine In Denying Motion To Dismiss Foreclosure Rescue Litigation.

Some Homeowners Facing Loss Of Homes Engaging In Another Form Of "Foreclosure Stripping"

The Wall Street Journal reports:
  • [T]hese days, bankers and mortgage companies often find that by the time they get the keys [to a recently foreclosed home] back, embittered homeowners have stripped out appliances, punched holes in walls, dumped paint on carpets and, as a parting gift, locked their pets inside to wreak further havoc. Real-estate agents estimate that about half of foreclosed properties to be sold by mortgage companies nationwide have "substantial" damage, according to a new survey by Campbell Communications, a marketing and research firm based in Washington, D.C.

  • The most practical way to ensure the houses are returned in decent shape, lenders and their agents say, is to pay homeowners hundreds or even thousands of dollars to put their anger in escrow and leave quietly. A ransom? A bribe? "Yeah, somewhat," says John Carver, an agent specializing in foreclosed homes for Prudential Americana Group in Las Vegas. But "you lose a house, and then you get some financial help -- it's a good thing...It's a win-win for both parties."

For more, see Buyers' Revenge: Trash the House After Foreclosure.

See also:

All Philadelphia Home Foreclosure Sales For April Are Hereby Cancelled!!!

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:
  • With housing advocates predicting that the subprime mortgage crisis will hit the city hard in 2008, Sheriff John D. Green yesterday suspended sales of foreclosed properties for April and said he would seek court approval for an even longer moratorium. His announcement came about 30 minutes after City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on him to freeze sheriff's sales.

  • "We are excited about having a partnership with City Council," Green said in a news release, noting that he did not have the same support when he unilaterally imposed a 30-day moratorium in 2004. Green said the reprieve would give his office more time to identify predatory-lending victims and to help struggling home owners. Lenders caution that any moratorium could drive some mortgage bankers out of the city, making loans costlier and more difficult to obtain for everyone.

For more, see Phila. sheriff's home sales suspended.

See also:

Lists Of Foreclosed Homes For Sale Beginning To Attract Interest From Copper Thieves?

It was only a matter of time before a story like this came along, although it apparently isn't the first such incident. In Cleveland Heights, Ohio, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:
  • Police broke up an organized copper-theft ring Wednesday that used foreclosure lists to pinpoint targets. The burglars' information on what houses to hit came from unlikely but official sources: the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office, according to Police Chief Martin Lentz. "We suspected that it was more than random targeting of houses," Lentz said. "We didn't know how sophisticated it was until we started getting these lists."


  • It's the second time in three months that Cleveland Heights police have broken up a copper-theft ring using foreclosure lists - which are public records and are available on the Internet. On Dec. 24, police arrested three people involved in a more-sophisticated copper-theft ring that used a computer to track foreclosed homes. [...] They had an 11-page printout of mortgage and bank foreclosures from HUD, Lentz said.


  • The theft of copper, brass and aluminum continues to escalate. The illicit market is fueled to a large degree because of China's growing demand for metals. Copper sells for as much as $3 a pound.

For more, see Copper theft ring worked from foreclosure lists, Cleveland Heights police say (Suspects relied on foreclosure lists, Heights police say).

See also, WKYC-TV Channel 3: Copper thieves used foreclosure list to target homes.

For other stories on stolen copper, see Copper Thefts I and Copper Thefts II. copper metal theft yak

Illinois AG Reaches Settlement With Florida Upfront Fee Foreclosure Rescue Operator, Firm To Cease Operating In State

Announcement this week from the Idaho Attorney General's Office:
  • Mortgage Assistance Solutions, LLC, a Florida foreclosure rescue company that sent advertisements to consumers claiming their homes were in foreclosure, can no longer do business in Idaho, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. Mortgage Assistance Solutions entered into a settlement agreement with the Attorney General that prohibits the company from advertising or engaging in any transaction involving an Idaho consumer or property in Idaho.


  • Mortgage Assistance Solutions made claims it could negotiate a better deal with a homeowner’s mortgage lender than the homeowner can by dealing directly with the lender. However, the company required a $1,200 payment before it would discuss possible options with the consumer.

  • Under the settlement agreement, if Mortgage Assistance Solutions is found doing business in Idaho, it is subject to a $10,000 civil penalty. The company reimbursed the Attorney General $1,700 in attorney fees and costs. The company did not admit any liability under the agreement.

  • Mortgage Assistance Solutions is operated by Michael Stoller, an attorney in Beverly Hills, California.

For the Idaho AG press release, see Wasden Bans Florida Foreclosure Rescue Company.

Go here to view a solicitation an Idaho consumer received from Mortgage Assistance Solutions.

Go here for other posts on Mortgage Assistance Solutions.

Elderly Among Those Targeted In Recently Busted Alleged "Bait & Switch" Refinancing Scam Ring

In Los Angeles, California, the Los Angeles Daily News reports:
  • For Charles and Patricia Simmons, the offer seemed like a boon as they coped with extra medical costs: lower monthly payments on their $550,000 Inglewood home, reduced interest rates and $25,000 in cash. Instead, the couple ended up with no cash, a $5,600 monthly mortgage payment, deeper debt, much of their savings lost - and facing the potential loss of their longtime home. "Please, please, do something to help us and others like us," Patricia Simmons said Wednesday at a Los Angeles City Hall news conference. "There are so many crooked mortgage dealers that are hurting the elderly who are facing the loss of their homes like myself."

  • Investigators say the Simmonses are among people throughout Southern California who were defrauded - apparently out of millions of dollars - in what officials call an elaborate bait-and-switch scheme operated by a San Fernando Valley group.
For more, see Elderly fear home loss in loan scheme.

For earlier post on this story, see California Authorities Bust Up Alleged "Bait & Switch" Predatory Lending Scam Operation, Thousands Victimized.

Worcester A Recent Example Of Growing Trend To Turn To The Courts In Dealing With Vacant Foreclosures

In Worcester, Massachusetts, Reuters reports:
  • Like many cities in the United States where the home vacancy rate has scaled its highest since records began in 1956, the former textile mill city of Worcester in Massachusetts is turning to the courts to fight back. Their target: banks who abandon properties and who leave behind a glut of empty, dilapidated houses that draw crime, cut tax revenue and depress nearby property values in a market already in a tailspin.


  • In February, [city manager Michael O'Brien] began asking judges to assign property managers to buildings at the expense of the mortgage companies. The idea is to stop tenants from being abruptly tossed out of a foreclosed home and to provide enough basic maintenance to keep it from getting condemned.

Reportedly, other cities are pursuing even more radical measures. For more, see Cities grapple with surge in abandoned homes.

Go here for other posts on vacant homes leaving its mark on neighborhoods. neighborhood destruction from foreclosures I

Thursday, March 27, 2008

More On Florida AG Suit Against South Florida Foreclosure Rescue Operator Allegedly Offering Deceptive Sale Leaseback Arrangements

In Broward County, Florida, the South Florida Sun Sentinel ran a story on foreclosure rescue operator Jack Moussa and his Florida Housing Council, who are among the targets of a civil lawsuit brought by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum for violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act:
  • In interviews with the Sun-Sentinel last year, several homeowners said Moussa came into their homes and promised to help them avoid Foreclosure. Some said Moussa hurried them into signing documents, including complicated trust agreements and deeds that gave all the control of their properties to the housing council. Homeowners were often charged various fees for signing the trust agreements even though no actual services were provided, the suit said. In many cases, Moussa told homeowners that the housing council was a federally funded agency that helps homeowners in financial distress.

The story includes anectdotes from two financially strapped homeowners who did business with Moussa and who subsequently brought their own lawsuits against his companies. Florida attorney David Silverstone, who represents one of the homeowners and who has represented other homeowners in suits filed against the housing council, praised McCollum for taking the action.

For more, see State attorney general targets 3 mortgage companies (when link expires, try here or try here).

For a copy of the lawsuit and the Florida AG's allegations filed in Fort Lauderdale, see Office of the Attorney General - State of Florida v. Florida Housing Council, et al.

Go here for other posts on Florida foreclosure rescue operator Jack Moussa and the Florida Housing Council.

Go here , go here , and go here for one blogger's random thoughts on Jack Moussa.


Some time ago, the CNN business program Open House with Gerri Willis featured a Florida couple facing foreclosure and their experience when they unwittingly signed over their home to a title-holding land trust in a deal arranged by foreclosure rescue operator Jack Moussa and his Florida Housing Council. To watch the video, see Rescue or Ripoff?

Two Oakland-Area Women Face 36 Felony Charges In Alleged "Fractional Interest Deed Transfer" Foreclosure Rescue Bankruptcy Scam

In Northern California, the San Jose Mercury News reports:
  • Alameda County District Attorney investigators arrested two women in Livermore on Wednesday for allegedly running a real estate scam targeting homeowners facing foreclosure. Sonia Alburez, 37, owner of the Community Home Saver Program, and her employee Verena Silva, 42, of Union City, are facing 36 felony counts in at least 14 incidents throughout Alameda County. In the alleged scam, homeowners paid a fee -- between $1,500 and $2,500 each -- to have the women stall the foreclosure, but ended up losing their homes anyway.


  • According to the District Attorney's office, the suspects would have property owners transfer a fractional interest of their property to fictitious company names via a grant deed. These companies had no real assets nor did they do any legitimate work. These company names were then added to the deeds at the recorder's office and the two women would file a petition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The petitions would automatically stall foreclosure proceedings. But what the homeowners didn't know was that the banks that held the liens on the home would go to the bankruptcy court, get the grant deed overturned and foreclose the home anyway. Prosecutors believe there may be more victims.

For the story, see Women accused in alleged loan scam (Women reportedly said they'd stall foreclosure, but victims still lost their homes).

See also: San Francisco Chronicle: 2 arrests in Alameda County foreclosure scam.

For story update, see Alleged real estate scammer arraigned (Woman hit with eight felony counts after duping homeowners who still wound up in foreclosure).

Editorial Note:

As reported in an earlier post, some who are allegedly pulling this scam are actually putting the fractional ownership interest in the home facing foreclosure in the name of an unwitting person who recently filed for bankruptcy. The perpetrators are getting the names of recent bankruptcy filers in far away places by simply checking online bankruptcy resources and selecting individuals' names at random. For more on this, see Texas AG, Judge Slam Mortgage Rescue Operators In Fractional Interest "Foreclosure Delay" Bankruptcy Scam.

Go here for other posts on fractional interest deed transfer, foreclosure rescue bankruptcy scams.

Florida AG Slams Firm Offering Foreclosure Rescue, Sale Leaseback Programs In Civil Suit; Alleges At Least 38 Homeowners Screwed Over

(original post - 3-27-08)
The Florida Attorney General's Office has filed another civil lawsuit against a foreclosure rescue operator offering allegedly sham sale leasebacks to homeowners facing foreclosure. Excerpts from the Florida AG announcement follow:

  • Attorney General Bill McCollum [Wednesday] announced that his office has sued three Broward County companies and their owners for their alleged roles in a foreclosure rescue scheme. The lawsuit names Florida Housing Council, LLP; Equity Investment Capital Management, Inc.; Star Enterprises, LLC, and Jack Moussa and Rose Moussa as the participants in a deceptive operation that defrauded hundreds of thousands of dollars in home equity from numerous homeowners in the foreclosure process.

  • Florida Housing Council allegedly identified homeowners in the foreclosure process and sent them an advertising mailer telling them to contact Florida Housing Council immediately to avoid foreclosure. Representatives of the companies would then persuade homeowners to sign documents, including complicated trust agreements and deeds, which conveyed the titles to their properties to trusts controlled by Florida Housing Council. The complaint states consumers were often charged various fees for signing the trust agreements even though no actual services were provided. According to the lawsuit, Jack Moussa also occasionally misrepresented to consumers that Florida Housing Council was a government entity.

  • Once the deeds were transferred, Florida Housing Council would allegedly charge the homeowners rent, and if rent was not paid, the homeowners would be evicted from their homes. Jack Moussa would supposedly either keep the homes or sell them for a profit. At least 38 homeowners in Florida have been affected and hundreds of thousands of dollars in homeowner equity has been taken.


  • Consumers who believe they may have been victimized by any of these defendants may contact the Attorney General's Office at 1-866-966-7226 or online at to file a complaint.
For the Florida AG press release, see Broward Companies, Couple Sued for Foreclosure Rescue Scam (Scheme victimized more than 30 families, defrauding them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in home equity).

For a copy of the lawsuit and the Florida AG's allegations filed in Fort Lauderdale, see Office of the Attorney General - State of Florida v. Florida Housing Council, et al.

Go here for other posts on Florida foreclosure rescue operator Jack Moussa and the Florida Housing Council.

For another recent civil lawsuit by the Florida AG against another foreclosure rescue operator, see:

For more on equity stripping scams, generally, see DREAMS FORECLOSED: The Rampant Theft of Americans' Homes Through Equity-stripping Foreclosure 'Rescue' Scams (4.61 MB approx.).

Illinois AG Alleges Deceptive Lending Practices/Refinancing Scheme In Suit Against Mortgage Broker

From the Illinois Attorney General's Office:
  • As part of her ongoing efforts to fight mortgage fraud, Attorney General Lisa Madigan [yesterday] filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against a Chicago-based mortgage broker for engaging in deceptive lending practices that have resulted in the loss of at least one consumer’s home.

  • Madigan’s lawsuit, filed against Advantage Mortgage Consulting, Inc. and President Robert Enright, alleges that the defendants employed a variety of schemes to convince consumers— including many on the brink of foreclosure—that they would pay lower monthly mortgage payments when, in fact, their monthly rates later increased significantly. Specifically, the defendants used deceptive refinancing schemes, padded loans with higher than stated fees, failed to disclose prepayment penalties and brokered adjustable rate mortgages with consumers who believed they were agreeing to fixed-rate mortgages, according to the complaint.

  • Advantage Mortgage Consulting deceived consumers, convincing them to enter unknowingly into mortgages they simply could not afford or did not need,” Attorney General Madigan said.

For the entire Illinois AG press release, see Madigan Files Suit Against Chicago Mortgage Broker For Deceptive Practices.

See also, Chicago Sun Times: Attorney general's lawsuit alleges deceptive lending practices by mortgage broker.

More On Downtown Miami Condo Market Doldrums

In Miami, Florida, Miami Today reports:
  • The Brickell Avenue condo market continues to struggle, and experts say it's not likely to turn a corner before all the buildings under construction are completed. Brickell Avenue condo units account for 86 of the 223 distressed properties east of I-95 in Miami-Dade County listed in the Vultures Database maintained by That's the largest number of any one market in the county.
For more, see Brickell condos distress grows.

Go here for other posts related to the Miami condo market problem.

Legal Attacks Against Countrywide Continue; Accused Of Running Up Late Fees, Misrepresnting Terms Of Forbearance Agreements

In Orange County, Texas, the Southeast Texas Record reports:
  • Jason Byrd of the Snider & Byrd law firm has filed two new suits against Countrywide Home Loans in Orange County District Court. After Hurricane Rita cut a swath through Southeast Texas, Countrywide granted several Golden triangle residents a reprieve from making monthly mortgage payments. Now more than two years later, Countrywide is seeking to collect on those back payments. Orange County residents Alton and Susan Pursley along with Joey and Jennifer Bergeron claim Countrywide misrepresented the conditions of the payment suspension program and is now unfairly requesting a lump sum payment plus additional late fees.


  • The home owners in the suit allege Countrywide's actions are not only in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act [DTPA] and a breach of contract, "but are patently deceptive."

For more, including a list of violations of DTPA allegedly committed by Countrywide, see Suits against Countrywide for charging late fees piling up.

For other stories on Texas lawsuits against Countrywide by the same law firm, see:

Go here, Go here and Go here for more on recent Countrywide problems with consumers.

Another California City Passes Ordinance Requiring Registration Of Vacant Foreclosures; Violators Face Fines, Criminal Prosecution

In Indio, California, The Desert Sun reports:
  • The abandoned, foreclosed home on Caribe Street looked OK from the outside. Inside, it was obvious that squatters - homeless people who stay the night in vacant houses - had invaded. Plates with crusted food, empty beer cans and pillows were strewn throughout the home. Used, wadded-up toilet paper piled high in the bathrooms.


  • It's a scene that's starting to crop up in neighborhoods across the valley - a byproduct of skyrocketing foreclosures. Indio, with nearly 1,500 homes in foreclosure in the city's limits, is leading valley cities in taking a stand. A new law goes into effect April 4 targeting abandoned homes with overgrown landscaping, stagnant pools and other eyesores that scream "empty" to squatters. The law requires that abandoned properties be registered with the city and maintained. If not, the owner - usually the bank in foreclosed situations - could face fines or criminal prosecution. [...] Other Coachella Valley cities are following.

For more, see Negligent owners in Indio could be fined (As foreclosure rates hit all-time highs, valley cities explore ways to keep empty houses from attracting vagrants).

Go here for other posts on vacant homes leaving its mark on neighborhoods.

Go here for posts on vacant homes, foreclosures and squatters. squatter foreclosure zebra neighborhood destruction from foreclosures I

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ABC World News Tonight On Foreclosure Rescue Scams

ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson ran a story Monday night on the spike in foreclosure rescue scams around the country. It featues a victim who was screwed out of the equity in her Richmond, Virginia home. An excerpt:
  • [The homeowner] says they [the foreclosure rescue operators] told her they would buy the house and let her live in it for a year rent free until she could rebuild her credit and buy it back. She says she signed off on their paperwork, but instead of honoring their agreement with Fowler, she says they sold the house to another party and Fowler was forced out. After the property was sold, Fowler says the mortgage company kept all the equity out of the home.

  • As part of the FBI investigation into the scheme, a Virginia woman, Anna Essex Thorne, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the mortgage documents she executed to buy the home. [... The homeowner] hopes to someday see the restitution money the defendant in the case is supposed to pay her as part of the plea agreement.

For more, see 'Mortgage Rescue' Scams Hit Close to Home (Authorities Report a Spike in Scams Targeting Homeowners Facing Foreclosure). (read story) (watch video).

For additional background on the federal prosecution of Anna Essex Thorne for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a foreclosure rescue scam, see:

Texas AG, Judge Slam Mortgage Rescue Operators In Fractional Interest "Foreclosure Delay" Bankruptcy Scam

From the Texas Attorney General's office:
  • Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's Bankruptcy and Collections Division successfully intervened in a federal bankruptcy involving an illegal residential foreclosure rescue scheme. In that case, Judge Stacey G.C. Jernigan sharply criticized fraudulent mortgage rescue schemes, which she referred to as “a new cottage industry of bottom feeders.”


  • The case involved two fraudulent companies promising to stave off residential foreclosures: North American Foreclosure, L.L.P., of California, and Jireh Capital Services, L.L.C., a Dallas-area affiliate. Jireh and its operator, David Curtis, who cooperated with the Attorney General’s investigation, appeared in court and were ordered to pay a $48,000 civil penalty and $10,000 in attorneys’ fees. [...] Judge Jernigan ordered the North American and its president [Jeremy Mitchell a/k/a Jason Mitchell] to pay $100,000 in punitive damages as well as $48,000 in state civil penalties, attorneys’ fees and restitution [...].


  • Curtis convinced the [homeowners] to convey one percent of their home’s value to an out-of-state person who was in bankruptcy, or would agree to file “bankruptcy.” The [homeowners] were told that by transferring a fractional ownership interest in their home to a third person in bankruptcy, they could automatically postpone their foreclosure date. [...] Under the “client agreement,” the [homeowners] were to pay North American $650 per month for as long as its “services” were needed.

The judge also referred North American and Jireh Capital to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for an investigation into potential criminal violations. For more, see Bankruptcy Judge Condemns Mortgage Rescue Scheme, Applauds Attorney General Abbott's Efforts (Calling defendants ‘bottom feeders,’ judge exacts punitive damages).

See also Texas couple taken advantage of in bankruptcy case, judge says.

For the related Federal Bankruptcy Court court documents setting forth all the underlying facts in this case, see:

List Of Aggrieved People About Indicted Ohio Foreclosure Rescue Operator Begins To Grow

In Newark Ohio, the Newark Advocate reports:
  • Margie Bradley and her family were struggling to keep their Deer Run Road home when they found a self-proclaimed "go-to-guy" to help them avoid foreclosure. Bradley said she had her doubts Harry W. Blausey, who was indicted last week on 30 felony charges, was running a legitimate operation, but he was so charismatic and seemed so knowledgeable about working with mortgage companies.


  • Soon Bradley and her husband would learn they were part of a growing segment of the community allegedly asked by Blausey to relinquish their ownership rights to their home and to either move out or pay rent, according to several people who have had dealings with Blausey. Not only would he not take over payments to mortgage companies as promised, but Blausey would oversee the sales of the homes for far less than their appraised values, erasing thousands of dollars of equity built up in the homes, those former and current homeowners allege.


  • What led to the point was a story shared by 18 alleged victims in the indictment and what appears to be an increasingly growing list of aggrieved parties unknown to investigators. "I can't give you a number," Licking County Prosecutor Ken Oswalt said Monday afternoon of additional potential victims. "I've received phone calls here at the office myself. I've told my staff to keep a list -- name and number -- to pass on to investigators."

For more, see More area residents come forward about foreclosure case.

For other stories, see:

For other criminal prosecutions involving foreclosure rescue and other deed scams, see:

Online Ad On Craigslist For Oregon Rental Home A Scam

In Salem, Oregon, the Statesman Journal reports:
  • Salem resident Angela Shrabel checks the latest posts on Craigslist every morning as part of her efforts to find a bigger home. And on Thursday, she spotted it — a four-bedroom, two-car-garage home in southeast Salem, at an ideal rent of $1,040 per month. Shrabel quickly dashed off an e-mail to the Craigslist user and drove that morning to see the home. But when she arrived, she found fliers posted by Northwest Pacific Property Management announcing a rent of $1,600 per month. When Shrabel called the Salem company, Northwest Pacific property manager Pat Gorham told her that the Craigslist ad was a scam.

  • Gorham said he fielded nearly 30 calls in two days about the bogus online ad. Northwest Pacific Property Management is the only property manager of [the home], Gorham said. Gorham said he e-mailed the Craigslist ad poster and was asked to fill out an application and send money to a South Carolina address. Then he would receive the keys to the home via FedEx. Gorham has reported the posting as a possible fraud to Salem Police Department and Craigslist.

For more, see Online rental ad revealed as scam (Company behind Craigslist posting might not exist).

Go here for other posts on tenant victims of rent hoaxes. unwitting tenant rent scam zebra

More On Use Of Water Service "Shut-Offs" To Illegally Evict Tenants From Foreclosed Homes

In the California Bay Area, the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
  • Faced with reports of landlords and banks in foreclosure cases who stop paying water bills as a way to illegally evict tenants, the East Bay Municipal Utility District is considering a proposal to place liens on landlords' property to collect the unpaid charges.


  • "It's really kind of an epidemic in Oakland and Berkeley," said Anne Omura, executive director of Oakland's Eviction Defense Center, a nonprofit legal-aid group helping poor renters. "I've never seen a time like this in terms of these foreclosure evictions. The cases are heartbreaking. We have a lot of elderly and disabled clients whose landlords have been foreclosed on."

  • Several cities - including Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco - have "just cause" eviction laws that allow tenants to remain in rental properties that are sold unless the new owner intends to move in or convert its use.

  • Omura said it's difficult to determine whether landlords and banks stop paying utility bills as a deliberate strategy to evict tenants, but her agency is seeing attempted eviction cases where the taps have run dry. A property owner is legally required to keep rental units habitable. [...] "Based on the evidence we are seeing in the city attorney's office, a large number of evictions resulting from bank foreclosure are deceitful, unjust and flagrantly illegal under local and state law," [Oakland City Attorney John Russo] said.

For more, see EBMUD considers helping renters in foreclosure.

For other posts involving the problems tenants face in homes in foreclosure, go here, go here, go here, go here, and go here. equity skimming unwittingly epsilon

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sacramento Feds Bag 19 Suspects In Alleged Nationwide Foreclosure Rescue, Equity Stripping Scam; Over $12+M Pocketed, 100+ Homes Involved -- So Far

(original post - 3-24-08)
In Sacramento, California, media reports from KNXV-TV Channel 15 (Phoenix) and KCRA-TV Channel 3 (Sacramento), as well as an announcement by United States Attorney McGregor Scott (Eastern District, CA) report that foreclosure rescue operator Charles Head and his brother, Jeremy Michael Head, the alleged ringleaders of what prosecutors describe as a nationwide straw buyer, equity stripping, foreclosure scam operation involving over 100 homes, have been indicted along with 17 others. The alleged scam involved targeting financially strapped homeowners and screwing them out of their home equity by offering bogus sale leaseback arrangements involving their homes that was purportedly design to save the homes from foreclosure.

According to Assistant United States Attorneys Laura Ferris, Rob Tice-Raskin, and Ellen Endrizzi, who are prosecuting the case, the charges are broken out into two separate indictments, "Head One" (2-28-08) and "Head Two" (3-13-08).

Reportedly, investigators have said that more indictments could soon be on the way, increasing the number of homes to more than 300 nationwide. The case, known as Operation Homewrecker, included an investigation by the FBI and IRS.

The following defendants were charged in the Feb. 28 "Head One" indictment:

  1. Charles Head, 33, of Los Angeles
  2. Jeremy Michael Head, 30, of Huntington Beach
  3. Elham Assadi, aka Elham Assadi Jouzani, aka Ely Assadi, 30, of Irvine
  4. Leonard Bernot, 51, of Laguna Hills
  5. Akemi Bottari, 28, of Los Angeles
  6. Joshua Coffman, 29, of North Hollywood
  7. John Corcoran, aka Jack Corcoran, 52, of Anaheim
  8. Sarah Mattson, 27, of Phoenix, Ariz
  9. Domonic McCarns, 33, of Brea
  10. Anh Nguyen, 36, of Los Angeles
  11. Omar Sandoval, 32, of Rancho Cucamonga
  12. Xochitl Sandoval, 29, of Rancho Cucamonga
  13. Eduardo Vanegas, 28, of Phoenix
  14. Andrew Vu, 39, of Santa Ana
  15. Justin Wiley, 28, of Irvine
  16. Kou Yang, 32, of Corona.

In the March 13 "Head Two" indictment, in addition to Charles Head, John Corcoran, Kou Yang and Dominic McCarns, who were all charged in "Head One" -- the following additional defendants were charged:

  1. Keith Brotemarkle, 42, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania
  2. Benjamin Budoff, 41, of Colorado Springs, Colorado
  3. Lisa Vang, 24, of Westminster.

Friends and family members were recruited as straw buyers in "Head One," -- in "Head Two" the defendants recruited strangers via the Internet to act as the straw buyers.

For more, including the Arizona connection in this story, see KNXV-TV Channel 15: Mesa elementary school teacher indicted for federal fraud.

Go here for a U.S. map giving the location of the homeowners who were screwed over.

For the KCRA-TV Channel 3 story, see 19 Accused Of Mortgage Scheme (Struggling Homeowners Victimized, Officials Say).

For the U.S. Attorney's press release, see Indictments Announced In Major Mortgage Fraud Scheme.

For the criminal indictments, see:

Go here for earlier posts as well as available updates on the Head nationwide foreclosure rescue operation.

Thanks to Josh Bernstein and Tim McDaniel for the "Heads-Up" (so to speak) on this story.


For more on equity stripping scams, generally, see DREAMS FORECLOSED: The Rampant Theft of Americans' Homes Through Equity-stripping Foreclosure 'Rescue' Scams (4.61 MB approx.).

For other criminal prosecutions involving foreclosure rescue and other deed scams, see:

More On Sacramento Equity Stripping, Sale Leaseback, Foreclosure Rescue Bust

In Sacramento, California, The Sacramento Bee reports on the announcement of the indictment of foreclosure rescue operator Charles Head, his brother Jeremy Michael Head, and 17 others for allegedly screwing over homeowners facing foreclosure from Maine to Hawaii with "sale leaseback" home equity scams:

  • The case – the largest equity-skimming scam in the country – affected about a half-dozen Sacramento-area residents and came to an FBI agent's attention when a North Highlands victim reached an FBI economic crimes agent who was taking calls from the complaint line. "(The agent) called Head, and based on call the agent believed there was something to this," Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Endrizzi said.


  • The defendants reached out to people on the brink of foreclosure, offering them the chance to keep their homes and pay rent for them while repairing their credit. Those who agreed were presented with a hefty pile of paperwork that included blank spaces that were filled in later, giving a "straw buyer" title to their homes.


  • Kevin Carlin, a New Jersey attorney who has spoken with about 70 victims of Head's alleged fraud, said the scam targeted elderly and disabled people facing financial strain after job loss and illness. "I trust that some people will be leaping for joy today," Carlin said. "Even if they lost title to their house, Mr. Head may be required to pay for it with his liberty." Carlin said one of Head's former employees testified in a deposition that Head took an entire office full of workers to Hawaii. [... Ass't. U.S. Attorney Endrizzi] said Head faces about 30 civil lawsuits filed from Hawaii to New Jersey.

For more, see 19 indicted in massive mortgage fraud case (Indictments allege massive mortgage fraud targeting homeowners near foreclosure).

For others stories, see:

84 Year Old Widow Loses Home In Foreclosure In Alleged Home Improvement/Serial Refinancing Scam; Three To Stand Trial

In Bradenton, Florida, the Bradenton Herald reports:
  • Bob and Ruth Dane knew something was wrong. In the fall of 2001, they watched construction workers habitually pop in and out of their neighbor Shirlee Sassani's home [...]. The 84-year-old woman got a new roof, which she needed. But the additions, repairs and renovations that followed over the next five years were unnecessary, according to Manatee County sheriff's detectives who last year arrested four men they say scammed Sassani. Three of them are set to stand trial this fall. Repeatedly, the suspects told Sassani she needed [additional] work done to her home.


  • Prosecutors say none of the [additional] work was needed, and that the scheme eventually cost Sassani her home. During the unnecessary construction, authorities say, Arbor Construction and Class A Construction workers helped facilitate nine separate refinances on Sassani's home. By December 2006, her mortgage was $303,000, and her lenders foreclosed on the home because she couldn't afford the payments. She has moved to New Jersey to live near relatives.

For more, see Three to stand trial in fraud case.

Go here , here , here , here , and here for other posts on elder financial abuse. valedictorian

Cleveland-Area Mortgage Broker Found Guilty, Two Others Cop Pleas In "Cash Back" Fraud Prosecutions

From the office of Cuyahoga County, Ohio Prosecutor Bill Mason:
  • Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason announced that James Sims and his mortgage broker company, County Home Mortgage of Ohio, were found guilty after a three-day bench trial for mortgage fraud offenses involving a house [...] in Solon that was fraudulently purchased with a $490,000 loan. [...] Sims is a co-defendant in another mortgage fraud case involving another Solon home that is set for trial on May 5, 2008.

  • Just before the Sims trial, two other co-defendants, both mortgage brokers and their companies, pled guilty for their involvement in the Solon house and four other houses fraudulently purchased. Mortgage broker, Fred Watkins, of Premier Mortgage Ohio, pled guilty to three fourth degree felonies for three houses: two in Solon; and one in Pepper Pike. In addition, he agreed to plea guilty to 20 felonies for 20 other properties located in Solon, Glenwillow, and Cleveland. He faces a maximum sentence of 35.5 years in prison for these 23 houses which had a total loan value of $9,818,000. His loan officer/loan processor, Floyd Patterson, pled guilty to four misdemeanors involving 4 properties.

Watkins, along with title agency owner Shirley Rodgers, local builder Ed Emery, and straw buyer Eloise Anderson, all recently convicted for their involvement with Sims, testified against him.

For more, see Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's press release: Mortgage Broker Sims Guilty; Watkins Pleas Guilty to 23 Houses.

See also, Cleveland Plain Dealer: Mortgage broker James Sims is convicted; Frederick Watkins pleads guilty (Mason says they knew debtors couldn't pay).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Criminally False Foreclosure Rescue Promises To Financially Strapped Homeowners Leaves Ohio Operator Facing 30 Felony Charges In Rent Skimming Racket

In Licking County, Ohio, The Newark Advocate reports:

  • A Newark man has been indicted for 30 felony counts related to his alleged making of criminally false promises to 15 homeowners rattled by foreclosure fears. Harry W. Blausey, 66, [...], was charged with 10 counts of grand theft, [...]; 14 counts of securing writings by deception, [...]; five counts of theft, [...]; and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, [...].

  • Licking County Prosecutor Ken Oswalt declined to discuss the specifics of Blausey’s alleged actions, but did say that the defendant preyed on their foreclosure concerns. “In most, if not all, of these (charges), he accepted from (the alleged victims) a quit claim deed,” he said. “They signed their property over to him based on the representations he was making. ... They would sign there property over to him thinking they would get a significant benefit in terms of avoiding foreclosure .. or walking away from the property.”


  • In addition to the 30-count indictment, Blausey is involved in 17 civil cases in the Licking County Common Pleas Court. Six of those cases involve plaintiffs named in the indictment. One civil complaint claims fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract and unjust enrichment by Blausey against the plaintiff, who also is listed as a victim in two counts of the indictment. He claims Blausey tricked him into signing over the deed to his house, getting him to vacate his home, then renting it out until it was seized by creditors.

For more, see Man indicted in foreclosure fraud scheme (Former real estate agent also facing civil court complaints).

See also, WBNS-TV Channel 10: Real Estate Agent Accused In Foreclosure Scheme.

Go here for other posts on foreclosure rescue operator Harry Blausey.

For other criminal prosecutions involving foreclosure rescue and other deed scams, see:

NYC Foreclosure Rescue Operator Has 36 Civil Lawsuits Against Him

In New York City, a recent story in the New York Daily News makes reference to a former South Jamaica, Queens homeowner who, behind on her house payments, went to a local broker for help in resolving her problem, only to end up being screwed over in a foreclosure rescue, equity stripping, sale leaseback transaction that included an option to buy back the home:
  • "Bishop" Desmond Grenardo, the broker, arranged a deal where the owner would sell the house but with an option to buy it back in the future by making payments to the new owner. [The homeowner] had a secure job and only $69,000 left to pay off on her mortgage, but said she needed money from the sale. At the closing, she saw the new price tag would be $189,000. "I should've got up and walked away," she said, but when she balked, Grenardo "got really mad." "He screamed, 'What are you thinking? Now you're asking questions?' I punked out," she said about buckling to sign. Payments ballooned from less than $600 to $2,000 a month as Grenardo's attorney flipped the house again and again. Too broke to pay for lights or heat, the family finally moved. "I tried to keep up on the grocery bill because my kids had to eat, but it was rough," she said. She now lives in her brother's co-op in Jamaica. The attorney representing Grenardo in many of the 36 civil cases against him did not return calls seeking comment. There was no answer at a phone number for Grenardo in Brooklyn.

For the story, see Forced from homes in subprime ground zero.

For posts on criminal prosecutions of foreclosure rescue operators, see:

81 Year Old California Woman Faces Foreclosure After Alleged Refinancing Scam Robs Her Of Home Equity; Cops Charge Daughter In Law, Loan Agent

In Stanislaus County, California, The Modesto Bee reports:
  • A Newman loan agent and a friend have been charged with defrauding the friend's 81-year-old mother-in-law out of her home's equity and thousands of dollars in annuities, causing her home to go into foreclosure. Susan Faustino, 49, and Diolinda M. Machado, 50, are scheduled to be arraigned April 11 in Stanislaus County Superior Court. They face felony charges of grand theft, obtaining property under false pretenses, forgery and making false financial statements. There are 29 counts against Machado and 12 against Faustino. Machado also has a single count of embezzlement from an elder adult, her husband's mother, Mary Machado of Newman.

For the details, see Women charged in loan scheme.

Go here , here , here , here , and here for other posts on elder financial abuse. valedictorian

Entire Grass Valley Subdivision Faces Foreclosure; Lack Of Sales Forced Builder To Fill Homes With Tenants

In Grass Valley, California, The Union recently reported:
  • Driven by a falling housing market, The Highlands subdivision in Grass Valley largely has become a community of renters as the project's owner prepares to sell many of the homes on the county courthouse steps today. Grass Valley Highlands LLC owns the subdivision that is selling for $8 million at 12:30 p.m. After a year on the market, only four people have purchased homes and 20 others have signed lease agreements, leaving the remaining houses vacant. The total construction schedule of 39 homes was cut short at 35.


  • At least one homeowner is worried that the stigma of foreclosure will further diminish home values in the community. "I see it going downhill quick," the woman said, who did not want to give her name for this story. She and her husband down-sized and bought the small but brand new and quaint home last May. Since then, the couple has watched as the neighborhood of 35 homes became dominated by renters and vacancies while promises of a community park have dried up without funding.

For more, see With few buyers, subdivision forced into foreclosure.

For those renters (and any tenants in California) wondering how they get their security deposits back in the event they are forced to move after a foreclosure and the landlord is nowhere to be found, see New owners liable for refunding deposit (The Modesto Bee).

Harvard Law Students Working To Make It More Expensive For Mortgage Lenders To Evict Tenants In Foreclosed Homes

(original post - 3-22-08)
In Boston, Massachusetts, The Record at Harvard Law School reports on the activities of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau in representing renters in residential property that are facing eviction actions brought by foreclosing lenders as a result of rent-skimming landlords pocketing tenant rent and stiffing the mortgage lender, thereby allowing the homes to go into foreclosure.
  • Foreclosing lenders, through local real estate brokers, use a program dubbed "cash-for-keys," through which they offer a one-time payment of around $500.00 to tenants in exchange for their voluntary abandonment of the property. Many tenants, unaware that possession is worth significantly more money, and facing intimidation from banks and constables, leave their homes with almost nothing.

  • Additionally, banks serve deficient 5- and 15-day Notices to Quit, pressuring tenants to quickly leave apartments before filing actual eviction notices with the Court. Tenants lack the knowledge to fight these tactics, the money to pay for representation, and the resources to avoid homelessness.

Reportedly, in representing low income tenants in these foreclosure eviction actions brought by foreclosing mortgage lenders, the Bureau has assisted tenants obtain financial settlements from the foreclosing lenders:

  • The median settlement in these cases is $18,000, a life-changing sum for many tenants. "Part of this process is about making it more expensive for banks to litigate these cases. We're trying to change the cost/benefit analysis of no-fault evictions," says Dave Haller, [a] second year [law] student.

For more, see Legal Aid Bureau Addresses Foreclosure Crisis.

Go here for more on the law students at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau urging tenants in foreclosed homes to fight back against careless/reckless mortgage companies seeking illegal evictions.

According to their website, the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau is a student-run organization at Harvard Law School composed of approximately 40 second and third-year student-attorneys, and 7 staff attorneys that provides free legal services in civil (non-criminal) matters to low-income people. equity skimming unwittingly epsilon alpha beta delta gamma

Sunday, March 23, 2008

South Florida Cops Catch, Release Three Beer Drinkers Hanging Out In Vacant Foreclosure

The Miami Herald reports on another confrontation that cops recently had at a vacant home in foreclosure; this time in Pembroke Pines, Florida with a trio of beer-drinking partyers, aged 16, 19, and 20.
  • Police said empty beer cans and trash littered the kitchen. The trio said they entered the home through the unlocked front door with the intention of "hanging out.'' Because the house is in foreclosure and an owner could not be located, the would-be partyers were ''positively identified'' and released at the scene.

For more, see Pines police crash trio's beer party (if link expires, try here).

Go here for other posts on vacant homes and teen beer bashes, keg parties, etc. teen parties vacant homes

Vegas-Area Tenant Left Screwed Over By Alleged Rent Skimming Real Estate Agent

In Las Vegas Nevada, KVBC-TV Channel 3 reports:
  • When the Hays found their rental home last June they were pleased. Not only could they move in right away, the landlord asked them what they could afford for a deposit. There was even the chance to buy the home at some point in the future. But that would all change in less than seven months. There's no forgetting the day Jennifer and Travis learned something wasn't right with their rental home. Their landlord called January 15, a memorable day. It was the same day Jennifer was headed into surgery. "She called to tell me I should start looking for another place, that she could sell me a house," Jennifer explains. "And that's when I figured out that not only am I going through a miscarriage, but I was also going to lose my house."

For the rest of the story, see House foreclosed, renters given little notice.

Residents in Clark County, Nevada who want instructions on how to find out if a home may be facing foreclosure, see Is My Rental Home in Foreclosure?

For other posts involving the problems tenants face in homes in foreclosure, go here, go here, go here, go here, and go here. equity skimming unwittingly epsilon

Rent Skimming Landlord Pockets $2K Security Deposit, Leaves Tenants High & Dry

In Gaithersburg, Maryland, WJLA-TV Channel 7 reports:
  • Renters are getting evicted because their landlords are not paying their mortgages. A few weeks ago, Tameka Edwards and her roommates got the shock of their lives. Their townhouse had been foreclosed without their knowledge, while their landlord continued to take their rent money. [... Julio] Rodriguez, a broker with Showcase Home Reality, informed the tenants a bank, not their landlord, now owns the townhouse because the property had been foreclosed. "That is so unprofessional for someone to actually demand something for nothing when knowing he doesn't have rights to the property," he said. Rodriguez suspects this landlord inappropriately collected three to four months of rent from his tenants during the foreclosure process, misleading them to cash in on their trust, instead of informing them they would soon be homeless.

For more, see Renters Get Evicted As Landlords Don't Pay Up.

For other posts involving the problems tenants face in homes in foreclosure, go here, go here, go here, go here, and go here. equity skimming unwittingly epsilon

Foreclosed Homeowner Accused Of Stripping Fixtures, Appliances From Home Cops Plea Deal

In Southwest Virginia, The Floyd Press reports:
  • The trial of a Floyd County woman charged with stripping her foreclosed home of light fixtures, appliances, a bathroom vanity and a claw-footed bathtub ended behind closed doors Tuesday with a mid-trial plea agreement. Elizabeth Ann Ledger entered a no contest plea on a misdemeanor charge of interfering with the rights of a property owner after Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Shortt dropped the more serious grand theft felony charges. [...] Ledger stipulated in her no contest plea that the Commonwealth had enough evidence for conviction, and Grubbs ordered her to pay $1,731.32 in restitution to the new owner within 45 days.

For more, see Case settled with plea agreement.

After Temporary Job Move To Avoid Foreclosure, Florida Couple Return To Find Home Converted Into Pot Farm

In Lehigh Acres, Florida, WBBH-TV Channel 2 reports:
  • A Florida couple who left their home in the care of a house sitter returned this week to find the building converted into a marijuana grow house. Kimberly and John lived in the home in Lehigh Acres, but didn't want to give their last name because they are afraid of retribution. The couple said they couldn't believe their eyes when they walked in the door of their home. The walls were ripped out and all of their belongings were gone.


  • The couple had left the southwest Florida [home] nine months ago because a job in California offered them the chance to avoid foreclosure on the house. [...] They came home after neighbors told them about wild, loud parties that took place at the house. [...] John added, "This was the only home we had. This was our home. We've been gone for almost nine months. We come back and this is what we come back to. It's just heartbreaking."

For more, see Couple returns to find home converted into grow house.

Go here and go here for other posts on Marijuana Grow Houses. pot grow ops alpha

Seattle-Area Prosecutors Charge Man With Bilking $600K From 96 Year Old Widow With Alzheimer's

In Washington State, The Seatlle Times reports:
  • A White Center businessman who presided over the liquidation of an elderly woman's $1.5 million estate was charged with felony theft Thursday, three years after her friends discovered she was penniless and days away from foreclosure. Tyrone Dash, 59, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of stealing from Frances Joy Taylor, a 96-year-old widow with Alzheimer's who went bankrupt after turning her financial affairs over to Dash, according to charging documents filed by the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.


  • The case is unusual both in its complexity and in the financial devastation that befell Taylor, an otherwise-frugal woman who enjoyed traveling and donating to her church. She was remarkably independent, but as her dementia progressed, she turned her personal and financial affairs over to Dash, withdrew from longtime friends, and became increasingly secretive and unkempt, according to the 192-page document filed Thursday.


  • The charges are the result of a three-year investigation [which] began in March 2005 when Taylor's friends discovered that two apartment buildings Taylor owned had been sold, and her house was in foreclosure. Those friends helped Taylor file bankruptcy to stave off the foreclosure, and began piecing together the circumstances of her financial downfall.

For more, see Man charged with bilking 96-year-old of $600,000.

For story update (3-28-08), see Not-guilty plea in theft from Seattle woman with Alzheimer's.

Go here for the earlier Seattle Times investigative report on The Fleecing of Frances Taylor.

Go here , here , here , here , and here for other posts on elder financial abuse. valedictorian

Copper Thieves Strike Long Island Church; Cause $15K in Damages

In Suffolk County, New York, Newsday reports:
  • A Dix Hills church once said to be "left in shambles" after it was ransacked twice by thieves this month, who stripped walls of plumbing for scrap metal, is slowly being rebuilt, just in time for Easter, church officials said. The Half Hollow Community Church was vandalized on March 5 by several thieves who broke into the church offices and stole copper piping out of the walls. The next night, the vandals struck again, removing plumbing from the recreation room and a bronze cross.


  • Legislator Jack Eddington said scrap metal theft is on the rise. Eddington says he regularly receives reports of thieves stripping homes of plumbing and other metals while they are on vacation or from houses that are in foreclosure.

For more, see Trashed Dix Hills church fixed for Easter.

For other stories on stolen copper, see Copper Thefts I and Copper Thefts II. copper metal theft yak