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Loan Modification Frauds
If it Sounds Too Good to Be True-It Is!
Like thousands of people out there, I have had my own struggles with fighting off foreclosure of my home.I know how desperate you can become when fighting to keep a roof over your head. Unfortunately this makes you an easy target for sham operations like loan modification companies, attorneys and even some Realtors who claim to offer help but instead they are just helping themselves to making a commission off your loss.
I have been scammed by a licensed attorney, given the "hard sell" by many a loan modification company who want lots of money in return for nothing. My experience with the loan modification craze has left me bewildered and suspicious of anyone who claims they can help secure a modification for me. I've written other hubs about my personal experiences of being defrauded by a loan modification attorney in Los Angeles and my journey to finding a reasonable settlement of my loan with my lender.
I know the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach from worrying. I know the 4 a.m wake up calls caused by heart pounding fear. I have experienced being on the verge of losing everything, having the scavengers knocking on my door offering to "help" me with a short sale of my home. I have more than just a casual understanding and knowledge of how it feels to know you could be thrown out of your home at any moment. It is easy to fall prey to unscrupulous people out there who don't think twice about adding to your fear and hardship by ripping you off. All this experience has been positive in one aspect: I am now an expert at cutting through the bullshit to spot the fraud.
In my telling about my experience, I have made a lot of friends. Friends I have never met but talk to almost daily. We share our troubles, offer advice and hope the best for each other.
One such friend emailed me in a panic the other day. She had received an unsolicited email from "someone who read her post" on a website about her troubles with OneWest Bank. This seemingly do-gooder wanted to help. She referred my friend to a woman named Anna C. who describes herself as a "loan modification guru". My email buddy asked me "do you think this is for real?" My initial feelings were it was questionable. The unsolicited email, the raving about Anna C from the writer of the email to me it was a red flag.
Anna C had a website and I checked it out. What I found was not really a website but a blog site similar to hubpages. Anna had apparently written a story about how she has "helped" hundreds of people secure a loan modification and saved their homes. There were several postings, with glowing reviews how "Anna saved them" and "Anna how can we ever thank you". Something did not seem kosher with Anna C and her blog. Something was missing and I knew what it was!
Unlike most companies who have sites touting their services, Anna C's blog told nothing about her qualifications, her experience or her educational background. I don't even know if she's a homeowner. Anna C asked my friend to give her $500 up front to sign a loan modification contract and then pay the balance in two installments. RED FLAG!
In California, where Anna "The Loan Modification Guru" has her business and where my email buddy lives, there is a law called SB 94(http://www.ag.ca.gov/loanmod/) it was passed back in October of 2009 after the State Attorney General, Jerry Brown started investigating loan modification companies and sending them "prove it" letters. The letters demanded the loan modification companies produce actual people whom they have helped secure a modification.The companies had to prove it to the Attorney General that their services were real and justified the charges. SB 94 went further to enforce the law by not allowing companies to charge up front fees before rendering any services. Anna C apparently being the "guru" she is either blatantly ignores the law or isn't up to date on laws impacting her business! RED FLAG!
I started posting to Anna's site. Asking simple questions that any consumer should ask of someone who wants $3,500 from them. I asked Anna "What is your background, have you worked for a loan company?" " Where is your office located?". She blocked all of my posts. The only posts on Anna C's site are ones with glowing reviews of how Anna "saved their home". Apparently Anna C censors any post that questions too much or casts doubt about her loan modification abilities. Hum? Wonder how "real" those posts are. My mind flashed RED FLAG!
My friend gave me Anna's email address and this started off a barrage of emails. Same questions posed to Anna. She replied with quoting me bible scriptures as justification of her not having to answer just basic good business questions. She refused to give me a business license number, her tax identification number, the physical address of her office or any information.
When I pressed Anna further in another email and voiced my extreme suspicions of anyone who uses bible scriptures to sell me on their services being legitimate, this is what I received from Anna:
" don't think you know anything about me because if you did you would not try to slam me like you seem to be trying to do.
You do not know my faith or anything about who I am as a person or how many countless people I have helped to keep their home.
Take a look at the amazing comments on my site, from people that need answers when no one is willing to stay up until sometimes 2am to answer them like I do-I do not charge on my site for what I give freely. It is plain as day.
Do you know anyone who will do that and spread a positive message?
If I believe in God and Christ and the power in that, then I can quote the scriptures that I personally believe in (freedom of speech). I am really not sure what it is you want or what your issue is with me- please let me know how I can serve you.
Blessings to you Annie - I wish nothing but light to you.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T "
I kept responding asking her to provide the most basic of information about her business and proof of the claims made on her blog site. She responded with:
"a christian minister that I helped from a large Christian organization would love to speak to you about their experience with me feel free to read Betty's recent testimonial and she as well as her husband would love to talk to you about what they have been through and what they know of me. If you really want to know the truth without assuming you know me and Judging me without facts, please let me know and I will gladly put you in contact with them.
I am a Christian and I do not have to put anything up to make myself "appear" legit - because Romans 12 is the only contract I follow and I answer to God.
I hope you take me up on my offer to speak to them as they really are begging me to let them speak with you.
One day maybe we can be friends-
Blessings to you and light,
Is she serious?
So often when we are panicked and under stress, we make decisions based on pure emotion and the result is our decisions are wrong. Anna knows this. Like any fraud and scammer, Anna has an acute sense of people's vulnerability and using the bible is classic! The average person would say "Look she's such a Christian, she wouldn't use the bible to rip me off".
If Anna is so reputable and honest, why doesn't she jump at the chance to answer all my questions? Why not tell me she has an office and where it is? Why not tell me she has a business license and in what city?
My friend called Anna and asked to come into to her office to go over her loan modification situation. What was Anna's response? "NO" "I don't conduct business any other way than via the Internet". RED FLAG!
I never got a straight answer out of this woman. She kept responding with bible verses or referring me to other people she has allegedly helped but I suspect these "satisfied" customers are probably commissioned employees. The attorney who scammed me out of money for my loan modification also had "satisfied" customers and an infomercial that appeared to lend some creedence to his claims.
My last email from Anna C accused me of being my friend's boyfriend who is also opposed to my friend hiring Anna C stating "This must be you Oscar. Your are telling ____false things and she doesn't want to hire me to help her!" Oh my, is the church lady turning into a little devil?
Anna C finally revealed herself to my friend as the fraud she truly is. Luckily my friend was spared another hardship and held onto her last $3,500. Let that be a lesson to all, look for the Red Flags and listen to their warnings.
In times of real hardship and suffering, there are two kinds of people: those that step up and offer real help unselfishly, share what they have with you; and give love. And then, there are the other people: those who see opportunity to profit. They take advantage, they know a person's weak points and insecurities, and put a spin on things so that they can make money using your fears against you. I think I know which category of person Anna C fits into.