Mortgage Rescue Scams Target Michigan Homeowners
"It was just lies. They led me on and before I knew it, it was too late," said Aaron Winchell.
Like many homeowners, he wanted a better interest rate. So a radio ad guaranteeing one sounded great.
"There was a $2100 fee up front. Never seen it again," said Winchell. "It ended up being a total scam. They led me on for probably about five months, and told me to disregard any foreclosure information, sheriff sales and all that."
The scamster told him not to pay his mortgage and that he was making offers on the house.
"He was real good at what he was doing. He befriended me," said Winchell.
The scamster worked at Michigan Modification in Lansing.
"I went back to the company and told them what was going on. They told me they had no record of me even being in their office," said Winchell.
"They're literally just putting the money in their own pocket and walking away," said John Sellek, spokesperson for Attorney General Bill Schuette.
Thanks to the AG's office, the person who scammed Winchell is now behind bars. But the damage to him and his family is done.
"We lost a wonderful home because of it. Me and my wife and two children. It really affected them as well, losing their house, changing schools. We had two weeks to find somewhere to live," said Winchell.
"Using funds from the national foreclosure settlement, the AG hopes to hire more prosecutors and help people like Winchell.
"If you went through this, and lost your house, paid money up front, and these people disappear on you, we've encouraged the legislature to create a fund for restitution," said Sellek.
The attorney general has filed criminal charges against more than two dozen Michigan based companies and individuals. Many of them sound very convincing and legitimate. It's important to know that it is illegal in Michigan to ask for a payment up front before providing the service. If that happens, it's likely a scam.