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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Foreclosure help scam update
CINCINNATI (Howard Ain) -- A local man recently got his credit report in order after a massive scam that hit the tri-state during the worst of the housing crisis three years ago.
Andrew Turner was having a hard time keeping up with his Liberty Township house payments during the Great Recession. He was facing foreclosure. So in October 2011 he moved out of his house in an attempt to preserve his credit.
Turner said, "The new Realtor found a company called 'Walk Away Today' and stated this would be our best opportunity. You give them ownership of the house, they stop the foreclosure process."
The company, also known as "Home Advocate Trustees," claimed it would negotiate with his bank. He'd have to leave his house right away and send the company his keys.
"We vacated the house and within a month there was new tenants in there and they said, 'For preservation of the home,'" said Turner.
Turner was told that the company was now the official owner of his home and he then tried to buy another one.
Turner said, "When we went to get the home our bank manager said we got major problems. 'You're almost 18 months behind in your mortgage and everything is still in your name.'"
Home advocate trustees never got ownership and never paid his bank. Yet they were taking money from the couple living there.
Eric McIntosh, the renter, said, "Yeah, that's one of the emails I asked him. How can we be in a two year lease agreement with you and you don't even own the home? No response."
Federal authorities said Turner wasn't the only victim. There were hundreds of others around the country. The two scammers got millions of dollars from those paying them rent, rent for houses the scammers never owned and never paid the mortgages.
The scammers, from Florida and California, have been convicted and are now serving prison terms of 11 years and six years. Turner was finally able to get the foreclosure taken off his credit report and now owns a new house. Turner said the FBI told him he was the only one, out of more than 500 victims, who has been able to get his credit cleared.
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