(CBS) — 2 Investigator Dave Savini tracks down a woman running a “credit repair” business whose clients say she took their money but did nothing to help them raise their credit scores.
Michelle Marshall says she hired Desiree Hawkins-Davis and Freedom Financial Solutions to help improve her credit score. She needed a better score to buy a new home.
“We went to get a house and we didn’t get approved,” Marshall tells Savini. “They said they went to someone with a higher credit score.”
Marshall says losing the house she wanted for her kids is only part of the nightmare she has faced.
“I’ve been hoodwinked. I’ve been bamboozled,” said Marshall.
Customers say they would set up consultation meetings, and Hawkins-Davis and the company would take thousands of dollars and not do the promised credit repair work.
“I gave her $3,000 dollars — $1,500 for me and $1,500 for my husband,” Marshall says.
Four other complaints were filed with the Better Business Bureau, with people saying they paid for credit repair they never got. The 2 Investigators also found a federal lawsuit accusing Hawkins-Davis and her company of making harassing debt collection calls and taking the victim’s money and keeping it.
The 2 Investigators found Hawkins-Davis was convicted of felony forgery in a 2012 loan fraud case after she tried to buy a car at Napelton Hyundai with a fake Social Security number.
She also had a theft conviction and conviction for writing a bad check.
Marshall said the one thing Hawkins-Davis did do was create a pay stub with her husband Keith Marshall’s name, as if he were a Freedom Financial Solutions employee. The document contains a fake Employee ID number, fake Social Security number and fake salary. Marshall said Hawkins-Davis gave them this to use to help boost their chance at a loan.
“I told her, ‘No way, and I want my money back’,” Marshall says. “And after that, she started disappearing.”
Marshall says she has not been able to get her money back.
“I don’t know what to say,” she says. “There’s no way a person should operate like this.”
The Illinois Attorney General’s office confirms it has launched an investigation but could not comment further.
There are other, unrelated, Freedom Financial credit repair companies. Hawkins-Davis has offices at 4440 Lincoln Highway in Matteson and 9934 S. Western in Chicago.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, credit repair companies cannot demand advance payment, and they must provide a written contract along with certain provisions for canceling it.