BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A family in Walker is living in a nightmare. They say they’re the victims of a loan modification scam, and come Monday they may be forcibly removed from their home.
Kenny Hernandez chokes up when he talks about his granddaughter.
“She lived in a FEMA trailer when her mother was killed, and she came here and this is her room,” he said. “This is the first room she's ever had.”
It's a room the Sheriff's office says must be vacated by Monday, November 12. Kenny and his wife Heidi still can’t believe how they got to this point.
Shortly after refinancing their home in 2014, they started getting offers for loan modifications.
“One of them actually stated, even if you just refinanced, it doesn't matter, you still may qualify,” Hernandez explained.
The Katrina refugees from Chalmette thought it was worth a shot, even when a smooth-talking attorney from Atlanta told them they'd have to let their mortgage lapse to start the process. Three months later came the foreclosure notice.
“He assured me that's perfectly normal, don't worry about it, it happens all the time, he's used to dealing with this,” Hernandez recalled.
Hernandez went along with it, paying that alleged attorney $2,000 over several months.
“Literally the day before the sale date he calls me and says, ‘I can’t get this loan modified, you have to go file bankruptcy.’ I had no reason to file bankruptcy. I never had no outstanding debts, no credit cards,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez’s bankruptcy lawyer sued his original attorney and got the $2,000 back, but the damage was done. He said his original loan was sold at least four times, then he received a notice that his house had been sold at auction.
“This is like Katrina all over again,” said Heidi Hernandez, Kenny Hernandez’s wife, while fighting back tears. “Except we got a few things, but we don’t know where to go.”
The couple tried to get their own loan modification, but they say they got the runaround from several companies. They even asked to rent their house from the mortgage company, but were denied for a reason they were never given. Now they’re hoping for a miracle before Monday.
“We’ve tried every agency we can think of, even churches. No one can do anything,” Kenny said.
Their granddaughter, a straight-A student at Walker High, would eventually like to go to LSU. They say it might not happen if they lose the house.
“For someone to come along like this and cause you to lose your home, I can’t believe it. It’s just unbelievable,” Kenny said.
A relative in Arizona helped the Hernandez family set up this GoFundMe page to recover their losses.
Experts say you should never pay up front for a loan modification. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers free counseling to navigate that process.
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