When you are desperate to keep your home from going into foreclosure you will explore all options.
In this case, a trio targeted consumers who needed help the most. For example, Rafael Ramirez. His home was in the beginning stages of foreclosure and he was eager to get a principle reduction or payment relief.
“We were struggling to get modifications and they weren't being very successful.”
Then, he heard of a program offered by Washington National Trust that said it could help him adapt his loan.
“It was coming from a person that I trusted so that is why I went along with it.”
The program promised struggling homeowners a way out of foreclosure for a fee between $5,000 and $10,000.
The problem? The trust wasn't licensed to make mortgages or modify loans.
“They trusted these people and they just signed away their lives thinking these people were in fact helping them when they did nothing for them.”
Fifty-four people lost more than $220,000, but the emotional toll was worse than the financial.
Many of these victims then had sheriffs knock on their door and were evicted from their home, when in fact they thought their homes were being saved - they had no idea.
“I lost my home, I lost my marriage, I lost my, I guess credibility within myself.”
Melvin bell, Monica Hernandez and Carlos Rayas were arrested on mail fraud charges.
In this case, postal inspectors say the trio targeted Hispanic victims and pretended to act as an interpreter.
But this happens in every community. Inspectors advice is to always research any company you plan to trust with your finances. Make sure that they are licensed. Call the state – it takes a little longer time but in the end, it's worth it.
© 2017 WFMY-TV