(CBS) — She’s on the brink of losing her home.
All she needed was a loan modification to lower her monthly payments, but the people she turned to for help just took her money. As 2 Investigator Pam Zekman reports, she was the victim of a growing scam.
Daily life is a struggle for 71-year-old Bobbie Thomas-Reed.
“I am not physically able to move,” she says. “I can’t do anything for myself.”
She requires kidney dialysis, oxygen and has trouble walking. When her children moved away from home, she needed help paying her mortgage.
“I figured that if I could lower my mortgage it would make it easier for me,” Thomas-Reed says.
That’s when a letter promising help seemed like an answer to all her problems. The letter promised to reduce her monthly mortgage payments to $573.
Thomas-Reed says she was excited by the prospect.
The company is called Direct Processing USA.
“In order to get the modification they would need $2,800,” Thomas-Reed recalled.
Thomas-Reed paid half of the upfront fee, but the company never modified her loan.
Chase Bank, which serviced her loan, told Thomas-Reed she was being scammed. But by then she was several months behind on her mortgage payments and is now facing foreclosure.
“This is my everything, I’m getting stressed even talking to you,” she says. “I’m getting a headache because this is all I have.”
Direct Processing USA has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau. The owners, who have also operated under the name “National Servicing Center,” have been issued cease and desist orders from both Oregon and Washington for defrauding mortgage customers.
The scammers find their targets by trolling public real estate web sites to see who’s behind on their mortgage or facing foreclosure.
“They know when people are in trouble, they know when they can’t afford it, they know when they’re behind in their mortgage,” says Steve Bernas of the Chicago Better Business Bureau.
Bernas says mortgage modification fraud is a perennial problem for customers who contact the Better Business Bureau.
“If they ask you for up front money for a loan modification — that’s what we would call the tip off to the rip off,” Bernas says.
Thomas-Reed says she would love to confront the scammers:
“I think I would lose my religion, I would tell him a thing or two because he has really destroyed my life.”
The telephone numbers listed for Direct Processing USA have been disconnected. After the 2 Investigators contacted Chase Bank, they reached out to Thomas-Reed and are reviewing her request for a loan modification.
The Illinois Attorney General is also looking into this as a possible case of fraud.