Dont4close.com Accused of Fraud, Misrepresentation
More and more struggling homeowners these days are looking for ways to avoid foreclosure.
But NewsChannel 5 Investigates recently exposed what happened when folks turned to one local company that promised to save their home.
Now, in a lawsuit just filed, that company is being accused of fraud.
Consumer investigator Jennifer Kraus just got a copy of that lawsuit.
In that lawsuit, Dont4close.com and its owner, Charles Jones, are not only accused of fraud, but also misrepresentation, breach of contract, and conspiracy. The family suing Jones believes that a secretly recorded audiotape could be a key piece of evidence.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates obtained a copy of that audiotape. On it, Charles Jones lays out how his company, Dont4close.com, did business.
"When I come in and stop the foreclosure...at that time, I can do technically whatever I want with this property," Jones said on the tape.
That wasn't mentioned in the company's TV commercials.
Kelly Reynolds swears Jones never mentioned that he could do whatever he wanted when she turned to Dont4close.com.
Reynolds told NewsChannel 5, "I have me, my husband and five children. The last thing I wanted was to be put out."
Reynolds said she was falling behind on her mortgage when she met with Jones.
She recalled that Jones "said that he would make the back payments and he would assume my mortgage for a year."
It turns out Reynolds signed paperwork agreeing to transfer ownership of her home to Dont4close.com, letting the company take all the equity, something the family insists they didn't realize at the time.
Kelly's husband, Kevin, asked: "Who in their right mind would sign a deal that said, 'Oh, yeah. Here, by the way, take our home and our $100,000. We don't want it.'"
Under the deal, the Reynolds' house was supposed to be held in trust so they could buy it back.
But then they discovered that a woman named Gladiz Romano had supposedly bought it without their knowledge.
On that audiotape secretly recorded by the Reynolds, Jones told them. "The people that you think it's sold to is not a problem. Those are actually people that are with me."
Jones went on to explain on the tape that he essentially put the Reynolds' home in someone else's name.
He told the Reynolds, "It wouldn't matter if I sold to ‘Mickey Mouse.' OK? The point is that as long as Mickey Mouse is within my group, so to speak, then I still technically have control of the property."
When we found Gladiz Romano, she confirmed it really wasn't her deal.
Kraus asked Romano, "How much money have you put into this house?"
Her reply: "Nothing."
"You will have to talk with Mr. Jones about it because, like I said, God knows I don't have anything to do with it," Romano told Kraus.
Property records NewsChannel 5 Investigates uncovered show Gladiz Romano borrowed more than $130,000 against the Reynolds' home.
Even though the agreement with Dont4close.com states that the Reynolds' mortgage would be paid off once the house sold, it never was.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates tried to ask Jones, "What about Gladiz Romano?" His attorney told him to keep walking away from Kraus and her cameraman.
There are other questions about how the deal went down.
Sheila Crawford worked for Charles Jones and according to other documents NewsChannel 5 Investigates found, Crawford had power-of-attorney to sell the Reynolds' home -- something Crawford insists she didn't know.
Kraus asked Crawford, "You were not there when the deal was closed?"
Crawford replied, "No, ma'am."
If you had power-of-attorney, shouldn't you have been there?"
Kraus then showed Crawford documents that were signed when the Reynolds' home was sold.
Crawford asked, "That's supposed to be my signature?"
Kraus said, "Yes, and right here."
"No, that's not. That is not my signature."
We don't know what Charles Jones knows about the signature. On the secretly recorded audiotape, he admits he used money from the Reynolds' home for other deals.
"I'm using equity from a property to be able to fund other properties which in turn keep rolling over and over and over and over and over," Jones explained.
The Reynolds say they still can't believe they lost more than a hundred thousand dollars in equity.
"No one would knowingly do that," Kevin Reynolds said.
But that's something Jones told them on the tape that was always part of the deal.
"I can do technically whatever I want with this property," Jones said.
The just-filed lawsuit not only names Charles Jones, Dont4close.com and Gladiz Romano as defendants, they're also suing Sheila Crawford.
Through a letter from his lawyer, Charles Jones insists he hasn't done anything wrong. That, in the end, will be exactly what the courts will have to sort out.
Bit it isn't the only lawsuit that Charles Jones is facing. Jones is now named in half a dozen lawsuits, that all allege pretty much the same thing.
We'll keep watching all of those court cases and let you know what happens.