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Bogus Foreclosure Rescue Scam

By Staff, Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott | Fri, 16 Feb 2007

Attorney General Abbott Files Emergency Action Halting Bogus Foreclosure Rescue Operation

Asset freeze and restraining order granted by judge severely restricts activities of pair scamming homeowners

HOUSTON - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today filed a legal action to stop a Houston woman from unlawfully exploiting distressed homeowners, some of them elderly, who face imminent foreclosure and eviction. Harris County District Judge David Bernal granted a temporary restraining order and asset freeze this morning.

The action cites Bobbie Heckard with fraudulently taking possession of the home of an 85-year-old Houston man under the guise of helping the homeowner prevent foreclosure. The man allegedly was led to believe he was only allowing Heckard to consult with his mortgage company, but in fact the transaction allowed her to take ownership of his home.

“This is an alarming trend we are beginning to see in Texas, and I caution every homeowner to be wary of solicitations for foreclosure relief,” said Attorney General Abbott. “I will take every legal means to see that those who unlawfully strip homeowners of their right to own a home are brought to justice and these consumers’ property restored.”

The Attorney General took prompt action after learning of this unfolding real estate deception. Today’s order also challenges Heckard’s associate, Christopher Henderson, to whom she quickly transferred ownership of the property after the Attorney General’s office contacted her about its investigation. Henderson promptly established a $67,000 mortgage on the property fraudulently transferred to him from Heckard.

Heckard’s scheme is designed to induce homeowners into transactions they would never consider if they knew the consequences. Heckard obtains a list of homes facing foreclosure, then tries to convince the homeowners that she offers foreclosure rescue services and will correspond with mortgage companies to resolve the problems.

She then persuades homeowners to sign forms allegedly authorizing her to contact the mortgage companies on their behalf. In fact, the forms the homeowners sign are deeds transferring ownership in the homes to Heckard. Once Heckard obtains title to the property, she sells it, pockets the equity and threatens to evict the original homeowner.

–UPDATE–

The suit filed today asks the court to force the defendants to relinquish all monetary gains derived from these transactions, return this money to all victims and restore their property to them. The suit also seeks a civil penalty of $250,000 if the court finds that the practices were calculated to exploit a person over age 65, plus $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

The judge will consider the Attorney General’s request for temporary injunction against the defendants in a hearing set for Sept. 12 at 1:30 p.m. in 151st District Court.

Consumers may report what they believe to be fraudulent foreclosure relief operations by contacting the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 252-8011 or by visiting the agency’s Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.



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