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Real Estate Scam of the Day: Lawyer Promises Foreclosure Assistance, Keeps Mortgage Payments for Him

After charging homeowners thousands of dollars in upfront fees for help avoiding their foreclosures, a Chicago lawyer is accused of taking those fees and thousands more in mortgage payments from struggling homeowners for his personal use and not helping them avoid foreclosure at all. Philip Igoe allegedly offered to help his victims stall their foreclosures or avoid them all together by filing for bankruptcy protections or loan modifications. Part of the process is alleged to have involved the homeowners sending Igoe their monthly mortgage payments with the understanding that he would forward that money to the banks with which he was purportedly working. Igoe is accused of never sending the money on at all, however, and instead keeping it for himself. Postal inspectors say that 15 homeowners were caught in the scam and lost thousands of dollars[1].

Igoe is accused of working with his wife, who is also an attorney, to bring the homeowners into the scheme and then later to cover up the tracks pointing to the Igoes as the culprits behind the foreclosures. According to the indictment filed in Chicago, Igoe “solicited clients who were facing foreclosures” and then “collected funds from clients promising to make payments for mortgages or Chapter 13 bankruptcy plans.” He then used “all or most of the funds for his own benefit,” the indictment continues, adding that Igoe “concealed important events in bankruptcy cases from clients, provided false reasons for the dismissal of bankruptcy cases, and then filed additional bankruptcy plans and charged additional fees.” Igoe’s wife is accused of lying under oath at bankruptcy proceedings and filing false documents regarding credit counseling taken by clients[2].

Between the two of them, the Igoes face charges of mail fraud, bankruptcy fraud, obstruction of justice, and perjury. One family lost their home after turning to Igoe for help after the main breadwinner fell delinquent after being in a coma after a work-related injury. Another individual turned to him for help keeping a home she inherited, but none of the money she allegedly sent to Igoe ever made it to her mortgage company. “I don’t know what he did,” she said, reporting that she paid Igoe on three separate occasions. “He scammed me not once but three times,” she added.

If you are approached by an individual offering foreclosure rescue services, check out their record and ask for reviews. Also, remember that most states prohibit the collection of upfront fees for foreclosure assistance or loan modification assistance, and always check with your mortgage company to verify that your loan is being paid if you are not paying directly. How do you think that the Igoes, if guilty, should pay for their crimes? Do you think that foreclosure rescue and loan modification assistance programs should be allowed to charge fees before performing their services?

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