Two mortgage firms were accused of telling elderly property owners they would received up-front cash for their land, but paid in trickles or forced them to accept lower amounts of money.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed suit against Enhance Mortgage Corporation and Templeton Mortgage Company this week. The complaint says the companies particularly targeted elderly owners or those who weren't experienced in the complex language of real estate transactions.
Abbott's office wants $20,000 for each alleged violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. It's part of a growing number of alleged mortgage scams across the country.
They say the companies particularly chose those with "owner-financed mortgages," which means that instead of getting a bank to finance the loan, the buyer would directly pay the former owner.
For example, one buyer still owed $76,500 on an owner-financed mortgage. The defendants offered to pay the owner $30,000 cash, and then they would receive the future mortgage payments.
But when the owner agreed, the company tried to lower the price - saying the land appraised for less than the purchase amount. When the owner wanted to back out, "the defendants filed a lawsuit against the former property owner in an attempt to force him to accept the lower amount of money," the attorney general said in a statement.
At one point, Enhance and Templeton had as many as 75 lawsuits on file in the Lubbock County District Court.
Property owners who believe they have been deceived by similar fraudulent business practices should call the Office of the Attorney General's toll-free complaint line at (800) 252-8011 or file a complaint online.
Enhance and Templeton Mortgage Firms Charged With Fraud