Foreclosure Defense and Mortgage Meltdown: SCAMS !!!



As though it isn’t bad enough, we are receiving increasing numbers of reports of scams, mistakes and just plain stupidity on the part of lenders, investors who own mortgage-backed securities etc.

Like the woman who just told she is in foreclosure by Wells Fargo on a house she never closed title on. Or the “mortgage workout” specialists who specialize in taking your money and running. Like the lawyers who tell clients they know all about the Truth in Lending Act, RESPA, RICO etc., and in fact either know nothing, or worse, know just enough to really screw the client from whom they squeezed a retainer out of.

And then you have stories like this in the Cincinnati area:

Home sale probed for fraud

Warren County and state officials want to know how a Deerfield Township man sold a multimillion-dollar Homearama house he apparently never owned.

“It is being investigated by my office and the (Ohio Attorney General) for possible fraud,” Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel said Thursday.

Francisca Webster, a Westwood resident who makes $49,000 annually, said she was tricked by a friend, Eric Duke, into putting three Warren County homes – worth millions – in her name so he could later resell them at a profit. He promised her $70,000.

• See details of the deal in the settlement statement
• See the home’s listing in Warren County property records
• See previous story: “Homeowner in over her head”

She has sued him in Hamilton County.

Now, documents reveal Duke “sold” one of those houses – 8662 Hampton Bay Place – to Patricia Stevenson for $2.5 million in a March 15 transaction.

The sale was done even though Duke doesn’t own that property. It remains in Webster’s name.

“People just don’t get how devious and conniving he is,” Webster said. “I’m really stunned.”

Duke’s attorney, Steve Wenke, refused Thursday to make his client available for questions and refused to pass messages to him. “I don’t want him to talk to anybody,” he said. Duke’s phone number isn’t published.

In a March 15 transaction, Stevenson paid Rivendale Property Management Group $271,500 in cash to buy the house for $2.5 million. Rivendale is Duke’s company and lists its address at the Hampton Bay Place house where Duke lives, which is down the street from the house sold to Stevenson.

Webster wants to know how Duke can sell a house she legally owns – but never wanted and desperately wants out of her name.

“I don’t know where we go from here,” an exasperated Webster said Thursday.

ReMax Realtor Simon Moksin said he saw nothing crooked about the deal.

“We got an attorney who represented the title company,” said Moksin, who pocketed a $60,000 commission on the deal.

Not so, said John Brandt, owner of River Valley Title Agency.

Brandt was paid $150 to sign some of the financial documents involved in the deal and act as a signatory witness, not as a representative of his title insurance company. The deal was consummated in Brandt’s Sharonville office.

Even though the documents list Patricia Stevenson as the buyer, Brandt said her husband, Mitch Stevenson, was doing the transacting.

“(Stevenson) never requested a title examination. Duke told him I did (a title search). I did not,” Brandt said Thursday.

Brandt said Mitch Stevenson called him this week to complain Duke cheated him in the deal.

“Apparently, (Mitch Stevenson) took Mr. Duke at his word,” Brandt said. “I really feel sorry for Mr. Stevenson.”

The sale involved a land contract. That is a sale where the buyer pays a monthly mortgage directly to the seller but the seller keeps the deed until all of the payments are made. If they aren’t made, the seller keeps the property and the money already paid.

That’s why there was no loan involved in the deal as is usual in home sales and that’s why there was no change in ownership in county auditor records.

“It was what we commonly call in the industry a cash closing,” Brandt said.

The Stevensons shouldn’t have to travel far to complain to Duke – he lives a house or two away.

Both of the houses were featured in Homearama, the new construction showcase, in 2005.

Efforts to reach the Stevensons were unsuccessful Thursday.

Moksin, the Realtor, would only say that Mitch Stevenson was “a businessman” when asked about his occupation.

• More Mason news. Join the discussion.

3 Responses

  1. Looks like Stevensons were victims here, paying the wrong guy for the house (and not performing a title search). I wonder if it was this desperation that led him to the $3M insurance fraud that he’s accused of.

  2. What goes around comes around. Mitch Stevenson
    writes many bad checks in KY. he deserves what he gets.

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