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Angry clients march on OC loan-mod office

March 25, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Angry homeowners staged a protest in Buena Park Wednesday. They claim a firm promised to help modify their troubled mortgages for a fee, but never delivered. Foreclosures are at an all-time high, especially here in California, so it's no surprise that loan-modification businesses are booming. The only problem is that a number of those companies are considered scams. Now ACORN, a non-profit organization helping people get out of loan trouble, claims that one of those businesses is in Buena Park. ACORN alleges that business is one of those scams.

Wednesday afternoon, about 30 protestors, mostly loan-modification clients of Center Legal, a loan-modification company in Buena Park, gathered in the parking lot. Then they headed to the offices of Center Legal to accuse the company of fraudulently charging them thousands of dollars for services not performed. The protestors wanted to demand their money back.

But along the way, about 15 of the protestors, including members of ACORN who organized the event, and an ABC7 photographer, got trapped in a building elevator for more than half an hour.

When they finally got out they were met by a locked door and couldn't confront the company.

Neighboring businesses said the employees left before the protestors arrived and that they took the stairs.

William Calderon said he lost about $2,200. "I let the people know that these people have been stealing, they called me today and they told me do whatever you want to do," said Calderon. "Yes I'm going to take [them] to court because it's not right, they've been stealing from us."

To avoid these loan-modification scams: Do not transfer ownership to your home if someone promises to save it. This is a common scheme used to steal home equity and siphon rent from you.

Do not pay any upfront fees to modify your loan without checking with the California Department of Real Estate. Anytime they charge you upfront, walk the other way. And do not pay your mortgage to someone other than your lender. That's another common scheme.


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