King 5 News reports on a home-buying scheme that has ensnared at least a few unsuspecting victims:
Imagine buying a home and moving in, only to find out later that the house was never yours at all.
It’s a mortgage scheme that’s caused financial pain and heartache for many families in Western Washington.
It’s a scam so bizarre it’s hard to believe anyone could pull it off.
How can you possibly buy a house and find out later it’s not yours? After studying hundreds of pages of real estate records, e-mails, and phone logs, the KING 5 Investigators have figured it out.
Liza Bautista, a polished mortgage broker, who routinely touts her churchgoing ways, is at the center of it all.
Bautista often tells clients she’s a Christian who likes to help people with rocky credit buy their first home.
Mary Pelayo is one of those people.
She saw an ad for Bautista’s business that sounded perfect: “Want to buy a house, credit problems? We can help.”
“It was awesome,” Pelayo said, “until it all started falling apart.”
The bombshell that showed something was wrong was name on the mortgage bill, not Pelayo, but Lydia Pagdilao.
Lydia Pagdilao says someone must have forged her signature. The documents show she owns the Pelayo’s house, but she says she’s never heard of it.
Every person whose signature was forged, like Lydia Pagdilao, had given their financial information to Liza Bautista in the past for deals that were legitimate.
Later, when Bautista couldn’t get loans for families with credit problems, like the Pelayos, she secretly replaced their paperwork with information she took from clients with good credit.
With the deals pushed through, she collected her commissions.
“Shame on them, how can you do this to innocent hard working people?” Pelayo asked. “I mean, it’s everybody’s dream to own their own home.”
Although the article says “it’s hard to believe anyone could pull it off,” I don’t find it hard to believe at all. It’s really just a small step beyond the risky (but legal) financial situations that a large number of people are willing to put themselves in so they can “own” a home. I wonder what percentage of people actually read and (mostly) understand the mountains of paperwork that they’re required to sign during the home buying process, versus the number of people that just sign whatever the mortgage broker puts in front of them.
I think that as long as people are blindly enthusiastic about getting into a home (whether or not it’s the right decision for them at the time), there will be ample opportunity for shysters to pull this kind of garbage.
As an aside, it really pisses me off when people like this call themselves Christian and yet have no qualms with taking advantage of their fellow man. That’s about the furthest thing from Jesus’ message that I can think of. However, that’s a subject for another blog.
(Susannah Frame, King 5 News, 11.20.2006)