Company Claimed It Could Save Homes From Foreclosure
A new report from the state notes there were 44,000 foreclosure filings in Tennessee in 2008 - up 70 percent from the year before.
NewsChannel 5 investigated one company that promised homeowners it would help save their homes.
Charles Jones is behind dont4close.com and the man who claimed he could help homeowners who were facing foreclosure keep their home.
"I thought he was going to be my savior and help me out," said Kelly Reynolds.
Reynolds was two months behind in her house payments for her home in Donelson. She said Jones claimed his company would cover her mortgage for a year, and then she could start paying him back.
"At any time did you think you were in any danger of losing your house?" consumer investigator Jennifer Kraus asked Reynolds.
"No, absolutely not," she replied. "He was very reassuring, and he said ‘I promise that you will not lose your home,'" Reynolds said.
But the Reynolds now face eviction because, it turns out, Jones sold their home right out from under them.
Kraus tracked down Jones to ask about the Reynolds' home.
"Ma'am, I have no comment," he said. "You're trying to create a story, and there's no story there," Jones said, as his attorney put his hand over the lens of the camera.
Reynolds said Jones never even told them he sold their house. Gladiz Romano is the woman listed on paperwork as the person who bought the house.
"Did this Gladiz Romano ever come by to check the house?" Kraus asked.
"No," Reynolds answered. "We have no idea who she is."
"Never came through the house to look at it before she bought it?"
When NewsChannel 5 found Romano, she at first insisted she owned the home.
"But you've never been inside the house?" Kraus asked.
"Well, Like I told you, I don't know the story. So if you give me your number, I can get this thing straight," she said.
"You don't know the story about a house you bought?"
"That doesn't make sense."
Romano eventually admitted that she had not really bought the house. She never made any payments. Charles Jones had apparently used her name.
Jones never explained how Romano was involved.
When we finally found him he was turning himself in at the Sumner County Jail, where he was wanted for writing a worthless check.
The amazing thing is that Jones actually bought the Reynolds' house a year ago. The Reynolds, who have lived at their home the entire time, had absolutely no idea until Jones stopped paying the mortgage. Now, his bank is telling the Reynolds they have to get out.
"Why won't you talk to us?" Kraus asked Jones.
"Because nothing good is going to come out of it," he replied.
NewsChannel 5 found at least three others in Middle Tennessee who are now suing Jones and his company, claiming he did the same thing to them.
"The fact that all of these people feel like they were taken for a ride, believe they were defrauded out of their houses - I believe that says something," said attorney Sharmila Murthy.
Murthy was involved with one of those lawsuits, which accuses Jones and his company of fraud.
The Reynolds now fear they have not only lost their house, but also the $100,000 they had in equity.
Kelly Reynolds - a mother of five who is now fighting cancer - said she is prepared to fight this battle, as well.
"I don't want to lose my home," she said.
Kelly and her husband now have a lawyer, and they have started making their own mortgage payments again. There are still no guarantees they will get to keep their home.
As for dont4close.com, Charles Jones - or J.C. as he's known - said the company has gone out of business.
Here are some tips keep you safe and sound - and avoid foreclosure.
Experts say, if you're falling behind on your payments, contact your lender immediately and work out a new repayment plan.
If you face foreclosure, stay away from businesses that:
- guarantee to stop the foreclosure process,
- require you to sign over your property deed or
- pressure you to sign papers you don't understand.
Here are links to two federal govt sites where you can get tips to protect yourself.
Free certified foreclosure counselors are available to help consumers who are facing foreclosure in Tennessee. A network of free certified foreclosure counselors is available to consumers by calling 2-1-1 or going to the Tennessee Housing Development Agency's website.
THDA is affiliated with the State of Tennessee.
Consumers may file complaints about foreclosure rescue companies or other consumer issues by calling the state Division of Consumer Affairs.