Central Texas man victimized by loan scam artist - KXXV Central Texas News Now

HEWITT

Central Texas man victimized by loan scam artist

By: Amanda Gomez

HEWITT -- As foreclosure numbers continue to rise, so do the number of people being victimized by loan scam artists.

It's a problem that continues to grow nationwide and it's affecting people in Central Texas.

66-year-old Hank Neigel is a disabled veteran who has been living in Hewitt -- just south of Waco -- for close to three years now. Neigel told News Channel 25 that in February of 2009 he realized he could not afford his mortgage payments anymore.

"It's a terrible situation to be in. I can't work, I know my income is decreased now substantially because I'm on disability so what am I going to do?"

Neigel said his wife had also lost her job and after his mortgage lender wouldn't lower his interest rate, he decided to contact Group One Loan Modifications to help him refinance his mortgage.

Group One told Neigel it would cost him $2,250 for their services. However, a month later, the group had not done anything to help Neigel and he decided to ask for a refund. Group One didn't return any of his phone calls or his money.

"That's $2,250 would have gone a long way to, you know, let us deal with it somehow to get more money in the house to pay the obligations," said Neigel.

News Channel 25 called Group One and left a voicemail but their web site has been taken down. Neigel also filed a formal complaint with the Arizona Attorney General's Office who told Neigel they are investigating the issue.

Hank Neigel isn't the only homeowner who is being preyed upon by alleged loan scam artists. Officials from NeighborWorks Waco told News Channel 25 they've seen a huge spike just within these last 12 months.

"It's a growing problem and we're seeing more and more that loan scam artists are getting more aggressive and more creative in their tactics," said Chad Klawetter, Center Manager for NeighborWorks Waco.

Klawetter said these scam artists will mail letters to people guaranteeing them they can save their home. He says these letters will often times contain confusing language and look like they are coming from a law firm.

"Unfortunately, that's one of the tactics scam artists use and no one can guarantee that they can stop foreclosure, not even NeighborWorks Waco."

This is why NeighborWorks Waco provides "free" foreclosure prevention counseling to those in need.

Hank Neigel is one homeowner who says he thanks God everyday for the help he received.

"Without NeighborWorks Waco helping us, there's no telling where we'd be, probably be living out under a tree in a tent somewhere, you know, I don't know."

In November, NeighborWorks Waco will be launching an educational campaign in Waco, Temple and Killeen to let homeowners know who the trusted sources are and what to watch out for when scam artists are trying to trick them.

For a list of tips and more information on what to look out for when it comes to scams, you can visit www.loanscamalert.org  or www.nw-waco.org

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