Avoid home loan scams and pitfalls

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PHOENIX -- Millions of Americans are struggling to meet their monthly mortgage payment so they're trying to refinance to get a lower interest rate.

But some are ending up in an even worse situation than before.


Arizona Foreclosure Prevention Helpline: 1-877-448-1211

One Valley woman was trying to save her home and wound up losing it anyway.

"This was my dream to own a home and then what I didn't want to happen happened," Tisa Reeves said.

Reeves said the dream of owning her own home became a reality a couple of years ago, but her dream didn't last long.

"I lost my job in August," she said. "I was working at Harrah's for five years."

And with no job, Reeves says the problems began.

"I knew I couldn't afford the monthly premiums on my own, but I was looking for an alternative like a loan modification," she said.

So she was introduced to Marcos Pirante, a loan officer. Reeves said he offered a solution.

"Marcos suggested that he'd move into the house, assume the home loan for a year and then he would refinance the home," Reeves explained.

That's right. According to a contract, Pirante would take over Reeves' house payments. The only thing she needed to do was move out and sign the deed to her house over to Pirante.

"He said it was his insurance that I wouldn't sell the home out from underneath him," Reeves said.

After the deed was signed over, Pirante moved in.

"Right now my house in going into foreclosure," Reeves said.

That's because Reeves says Pirante never made one single house payment. In fact, she claims he's still living in her home and, according to an ad, she says he's actually trying to sell the deed to the highest bidder on Craigslist.

"I want to keep my house. I want to keep a roof over my head and my daughter's head," Reeves said. "Did I want to turn my house over to a total stranger? No, that wasn't the solution."

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard tells 3 On Your Side that in these tough times people like Reeves find themselves desperate.

"People facing foreclosure and want to get a way out, unfortunately, are very, very vulnerable and some of these scam artists know that," Goddard said.

Goddard warns that consumers should not panic and make sudden decisions when it comes to their home loan.

"Unfortunately, her precipitous action took away her rights as a homeowner and left her with the debt," Goddard said.

3 On Your Side managed to get a hold of Pirante. He told us he was just trying to help Reeves and that he hasn't paid her mortgage payments because a check he's been waiting on has never arrived.

As for Reeves, she has lost her home and has nowhere to turn.

"I got taken advantage of during the lowest part of my life," she said.

We contacted Reeve's lender and explained to them the situation. They're looking into her case to see if there's anything they can do.

Reeve's also filed a suit against Pirante, but it is a big mess. In fact, Goddard says you're not even supposed to quick deed your home if you still owe on it unless you have the lender's permission.