(CN) – Two con artists promised to save distressed homeowners’ houses from foreclosure, then tricked them into signing away their deeds, the Illinois attorney general says in Cook County Court. The state claims Warren Jackson and Yolanda King, and their companies W2X, PTU I, Y2X, and Goldburg Bail-Out, selected their victims “by reviewing Illinois foreclosure filings.”
Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the lawsuit came in response to eight complaints to her office.
“Defendants target vulnerable homeowners by reviewing Illinois foreclosure filings,” the complaint states. “They then use telemarketing to advertise their services to these consumers whose homes are in the foreclosure process.”
Jackson and King promised to help homeowners refinance mortgage loans and stop foreclosure proceedings, then would “take the title from the homeowner’s property and strip almost all of the homeowner’s equity,” Madigan claims in the lawsuit.
The “equity stripping scheme” targeted senior citizens with little understanding of the residential mortgage loan industry, according to the complaint.
Jackson and King offered to help their victims get the loans they needed to get out of foreclosure, Madigan says.
“In return for the loans, defendants require the homeowners to sign over their houses to defendants or someone affiliated with defendants,” according to the complaint. “In some cases, however, the homeowners do not realize that they are giving up their homes. Instead, they believe that defendants Jackson and King, through defendants W2X, Y 2 X and PTU I, have merely refinanced their mortgage. They think they are making their ‘mortgage’ payments to defendants, but in reality, they are just paying rent to defendants.
“Under the guise of signing loan documents, defendants give these homeowners warranty deeds or similar instruments that transfer title to their homes.”
Jackson and King then looked for straw buyers to take title of the properties and collect rent from the former homeowners, according to the complaint.
Jackson and King promised their victims that the contracts they signed would improve their credit and enable them to repurchase their house from the straw buyer after one or two years – but it didn’t happen, Madigan says.
Most victims were unable to buy back their homes, due largely to the lost equity and the exorbitant fees that King and Jackson took without their victims’ knowledge, and for consulting work they never performed, according to the complaint.
The complaint does not estimate the total damages done. Madigan demands restitution for the victims and civil penalties of $50,000 per violation of the Mortgage Rescue Fraud Act.