Homeowner loses money in modification

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By Jim Carr By Jim Carr

LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. -- Dorothy Shaw has lived in her Litchfield Park home for nearly 10 years.

In fact, she was the third homeowner on the block when the subdivision was built. But, unfortunately, Shaw cannot afford her house anymore.

"I'm actually semi-retired,” Shaw said. “I've got to try and find another job, too, because of the fact that I do not get enough money on my fixed income."

But when Shaw's phone rang last summer, she thought her prayers had been answered.

The call was from a company that claimed they could help modify Shaw's home loan. They even said they could reduce her house payment by half.

"I thought, well hey, this could do the trick here, you know,” she explained. "To cut my house payment in half, who wouldn't go for something like that?"

The company referred to itself as National Mortgage Modification Stimulus Relief and Shaw agreed to wire the company $397 every month as payment for them to negotiate with her mortgage company.

Over the course of six months, Shaw wired a total of $2,500, but she says the company kept changing its name.

It later became National Mortgage Relief Center, National Hope for Homeowners Alliance and then Making Home Affordable USA -- names very similar to federal programs.

But when Shaw found out her lender was never contacted for a modification, she says her so-called “modification company” did not like when she started asking questions.

"And then he started getting all crazy with me on the telephone,” Shaw said.

3 On Your Side tried contacting Shaw's modification company -- the one with all the names -- and found out they operated at one time out of California and Ohio.
“I tried emailing them, but no one ever responded,” she said.

That is bad news for Shaw, who says she has a warning for everyone:

"I would tell them to never, ever listen to anybody like that, especially if they call you on the telephone because there is something wrong with that picture," she said.

It is illegal for modification companies to ask for money up front to modify your loan, so don’t.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office is investigating, since they operated out of that state.