Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Consumer Attorney: Guaranteed Mortgage Modifications are a Farce
(KUTV) Facing imminent foreclosure, Dennis Rowley though he'd found the answer to save his Kearns home. He got a call from The Porter Group, a mortgage-modification company out of Florida.
"They were guaranteeing that they would be able to go in and get our loan modified," he said.
Dennis says it's the guarantee which sold him. Paperwork from The Porter Group reds, "If we cannot negotiate a solution that will improve your mortgage situation, we will gladly refund 100% of our fee back to you."
"After talking to them many times, I decided yeah we should do this," Dennis said.
Dennis paid $2500 up front and at first things seemed to be going well.
"The bank had sent us notification that they were in contact with The Porter Group," he said.
But a short time later a notice arrived on Dennis' door. His house was going up for auction. Dennis says he quickly called The Porter Group.
"They said don't worry about it," Dennis said. "The sale is on hold."
But on hold it was not. A few days later Dennis says a woman knocked on his door and informed him that she now owned his home and he needed to leave.
Dennis says he was devastated and he called The Porter Group to collect on their money back guarantee. But despite numerous calls, Dennis says no one ever responds.
"We cannot make contact with them at all," he said.
Frustrated and fed up, Dennis decided to Get Gephardt.
As we began digging we found The Porter Group's website is still active. But when you call the number listed on the website it rings to a Florida auto-repair shop whose owner doesn't know anything about The Porter Group. Several emails from Get Gephardt to several different email addresses within The Porter Group got no reply.
As we dug deeper we found surprising public records filed with Florida's secretary of state. Despite a company claiming to be The Porter Group taking Dennis' money in 2012, according to the records, The Porter Group went out of business way back in 2005.
Utah consumer attorney Michele Andersen-West says she is not surprised we cannot locate The Porter Group.
"People [taking] money up front is a red flag," she said. "By the time the consumer realizes that there's a red flag the company has moved, shut their doors, [taken] the money and moved on."
Andersen-West says anyone who takes money up front from a distressed homeowner and guarantees being able to obtain a loan modification is a liar. She says there is never a certainty when dealing with lenders that a loan modification will be accepted.
Andersen-West suggests that people in danger of losing their homes work personally with a local lender by going into their office in person and trying to work something out. She says if the lender is a national chain the best way to try to get a modification is by using an attorney who can work with the lender's attorney.
As for Dennis, he never did get his guaranteed refund. He lost his money, and his home.
By Matt Gephardt
Produced by Michelle Poe
Edited by Aaron Colborn
Photography by Brian Morris and Mike Sadowski
(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)