It’s Time To Stand Up To Predators!General Posts
by Alex Chaparro
By day, I’m a real estate broker in Chicago where I specialize in REO listings. Like those of you who are also working in this space, part of what comes with the job is often the unpleasant task of advising delinquent homeowners that it’s time to leave their homes. The offer: financial incentives for relocation or more commonly known as “cash for keys.”
This week during one of those visits I encountered a Latino homeowner, who emphatically claimed that he had hired a “professional” firm to negotiate a loan modification for him after the foreclosure sale. I knew from the paperwork I had in hand that it was too late for any modification to help this client save his home. The trouble was that he had paid a firm $1,500 cash to help him. They promised him they would save his family’s home.
As luck would have it, he offered me the phone number of the firm he had contracted. So I called the number and to my surprise a Latina answered. I stated the purpose of my call and my role with the client’s property. The conversation that followed gave me a knot in my stomach.
A paralegal working on her own (and not affiliated with a legal firm), the woman had charged the homeowner for services knowing full well that it was too late to stop the foreclosure. She had no idea who I was or of my prior role on the Chicago Board of Realtors or at NAHREP. I was just another nosy Realtor to her. When she recognized that I am Hispanic, she tried to move the conversation to Spanish in hopes to make a cultural connection with me.
I managed to get her name and other contact info before we hung up. My next two calls were to the district attorney’s office and a local community taskforce where I have numerous contacts. This woman should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
I’ve seen enough of the heartache and loss these predators have caused our community. The Latinos that are guilty of these deeds should be doubly shamed. They know their in-language appeal woos desperate Hispanic families into believing them. They know their victims will go to any lengths to save the family home. They know the right heartstrings to tug.
I have zero tolerance for these predators. I can’t look the other way. With all my obligations I’m not too busy to make a phone call that puts these people in jail. I’ve had enough.
The fact that practitioners like this are still wreaking havoc in our community is a sign that we’re not doing enough. Those of us who do business ethically have the power to stop predators. We just need to have the courage to pick up the phone. Every time a Latino family gets victimized, we all pay the price. Families are derailed. Our community is weakened. And future business opportunities vanish.
I’m sick and tired of seeing our families preyed upon. When government regulations close loopholes, predators simply invent a new way to scam people. That’s the sad truth. Those of us who are entrenched in our local communities have the most power to drive these people out of business. We can do it by educating our clients, creating awareness for the latest scams and by bringing predators to justice. This is how I’m responding to predators in my community. What are you doing in yours?
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