Consumer Alert: Con artists targeted homeowners in mortgage scam
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Most people faced with losing their home to foreclosure will explore all options to try to keep their house.
Conmen count on that desperation to try to take advantage and make a fast buck.
Local 12 Troubleshooter Howard Ain shows how one operation got busted.
This is the story of three conmen who targeted consumers seeking to keep their home.
The men went after those who needed help the most.
Rafael Ramirez is still trying to pick up the pieces of his life after losing his home in a mortgage scam. 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,” said Rafael.
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,” said Rafael.
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,” said Erika Hawkins, a US Postal Inspector.
54 victims lost more than $220,000, but the emotional toll was worse than the financial.
Many of the 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,” said Rafael.
Melvin bell, Monica Hernandez and Carlos Rayas were arrested on mail fraud charges.
Postal inspectors say the trio targeted Hispanic victims and pretended to act as an interpreter.
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.
Melvin Bell and Monica Hernandez went on trial and were found guilty of mail fraud charges. They are awaiting sentencing.
Carlos Rayas pleaded guilty to mail fraud charges and is also awaiting sentencing.