After the payment on her adjustable rate mortgage shot up she sought a loan modification. She thought her lender was working with her, but found out that wasn't the case. "Here you thing you are getting a package to modify your payment and they're stabbing you in the back selling your house and you don't even know it."
Sylvia is not alone in thinking she's working things out, and finding out there is no deal.
Randall Guerra said, "The sad thing, is what we see an average of 8 to 10 of our clients walking through the door on a weekly basis, have been scammed."
Guerra heads a nonprofit group funded by the government to help homeowners in trouble.
The biggest problem right now is phony loan modification services. They charge from $2,000 to $10,000 promising to get a home out of foreclosure, then do nothing.
Some of those ripped off take their complaints to the Real Estate Fraud Division of the Fresno County District Attorney's Office. Sydney Ricks runs the operation. "There's a lot of desperation out there and the scam artists are targeting those people knowing there is a lot of anxiety."
The number of these cases is soaring, but the fraud unit is funded by fees on real estate transactions those are way down, so now the unit consists of just one attorney and one investigator. "Actually it has reduced the amount of cases we can go after. We still go after the most egregious cases it just may take us a little longer to get there." Ricks said.
The trouble is it may be a year before the homeowner realizes the mortgage hasn't been modified and like Sylvia Juarez, they get evicted. She however is fighting back. It was her own lender she says who failed her and violated the law. She claims the lender cannot even prove ownership of the home. Now she's taking them to court and hopes to get the foreclosure reversed. "How many homes have been sold like that and the families don't know it was done illegally."
The Federal Reserve along with the District Attorney's Office is advising homeowners who are in trouble to contact a non-profit agency that helps with foreclosure issues. They advise against paying any up-front fees for loan modification services, or applications.