7 On Your Side
Mortgage modification scam under investigation
NASSAU COUNTY (WABC) -- When people have trouble keeping up with home loan payments, some turn to mortgage modification brokers to help lower their monthly bill.
But one company is accused of taking money from these vulnerable homeowners and closing up shop without helping at all, and when we went looking for them you won't believe what we found.
These homeowners says they were promised a leg up but instead got knocked down by a mortgage company that took their money and bolted, leaving behind deserted offices and some golden rules every homeowner should know.
At the once bustling office of the Tempelton Group, Christie Farley and her husband, a navy man returning from Afghanistan, handed over $3800 to help modify or lower their monthly mortgage on their Massapequa Park home.
"We were scammed," said Christie.
The office looked like a wreck, as if someone left in a hurry.
It's also the same office where the sales agent took $2500 from Gladys Duval, promising to work with her lender to reduce payments on her home in Canarsie, Brooklyn.
11 months after she signed the papers, Gladys says there's been nothing.
Both families are among hundreds of alleged victims of the Tempelton Group. And now the Nassau County Police and DA say they're investigating the company accused by some clients of taking thousands but never completing their modifications.
"They will take my house from me," said Duval.
The roof that Gladys puts over her grandchildren heads is now in foreclosure, she says, because she took the bad advice of her sales agent to stop paying her mortgage.
"Sleeplessness, heart problems, I have to deal with this situation," Duval said.
Tempelton's contract promises refunds if they can't get a modification. But when Gladys calls to get her money back, no one answers. It's because Tempelton's headquarters is not only abandoned, it looks vandalized. And it gets worse.
In a garbage can are a number of files pertaining to people's homes, and all of it was just dumped in the trash.
We saw discarded pay stubs on desks, W-2s, and tax returns, an ID thief's dream.
On one agent's left-behind list: loan numbers belonging to Christie and Michael Farley.
"It's sickening, it's very sickening. it makes my stomach turn," said Christie.
She couldn't believe her eyes. Tempelton was gone with her hard earned cash.
"We have 2 children, we're just the average middle class family and we're just trying to make ends meet," Farley said.
If you feel you've been scammed please contact the Nassau County police. This investigation is just beginning.
The big takeway: never stop paying your mortgage.
Do not pay an up front fee to modify your mortgage, in most cases it's against the law.
If you're having trouble making payment, seek out a non profit HUD counselor in your area.
They can help you start the modification process directly with your lender. And it's free!
if you want to join the conversation on Twitter use the hashtag, #Mortgagemess.
7 on your side, nina pineda
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