A warning for homeowners struggling to keep up with their mortgages. As the 2NEWS Investigators found some are falling victim to suspicious loan modifications.
Pamela Hudson says, "We didn't have any kind of savings at that point… all of our savings was gone. So, I had my mother's engagement and wedding ring…"
The choice was emotional, but Pamela Hudson decided to sell her deceased mother's rings rather than lose her home in foreclosure.
"I asked my father first… he said absolutely you need your house."
She gave the money to a housing counselor, Lori Macakanja, who said she would use it for what's called a loan modification that would make Pamela's mortgage payments more affordable. It didn't happen.
U.S. Postal Inspector Shelley Carosella says, "In this case when the housing counselor got the money, instead of paying the mortgage to the lender on behalf of the client, she pocketed the money."
Investigators say Macakanja stole almost $300,000 from 136 clients.
"These victims often had hardships… either they were sick or they had a divorce, they lost their job and they could not afford the mortgage anymore."
Hudson is one of those victims. She has multiple sclerosis. She was trying to find financial help when she went to "Homefront", the non-profit agency where Macakanja was supposed to be assisting struggling homeowners.
Hudson says, "This was the letter that we took in to them… and brought us to being told our money was taken, and they were very sorry, and we said "aren't you going to give it back to us" you took it???"
If you are seeking a change in your mortgage, here is what you need to know:
-Always pay your lender directly, never to a house counselor.
-Seek a HUD approved housing counseling agency for free help with loan modifications.
-Work with your housing counselor to provide necessary documents and monitor your loan modification process.
Sadly, this advice is too late for Pamela Hudson.
"I lost the rings, I lost the money, and I'm losing my house…"
Lori Macakania is serving a 72 month jail sentence and is under court order to pay more than $290,000 in restitution to homeowners.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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