Exposing HOPE Foundation for nationwide mortgage scam

Contact 6's Katrina Cravy is exposing a company charged with running a nationwide scam that's got one Milwaukee family holding onto hope.

It was a dream for first-time homeowner Jessica Daniels: a modest house in a quiet neighborhood.

Now, Daniels is facing a nightmare, after her husband's position at work was eliminated, and he had to take a lower-paying position.

"It's $200 a week we lost," Daniels said.

This made the mortgage payments suddenly almost impossible, but then, it seemed Daniels' luck was about to change.

"We got something in the mail from this HOPE foundation, saying that our bank referred us to them," Daniels said.

Daniels got a form from a company called HOPE, which stands for Homeowner Protection Economics, which is based in Florida. The form offered Daniels the chance to apply for the <runtime:topic id="ORGOV000051">Treasury Department</runtime:topic>'s "Making Home Changes Affordable" program, and a chance to save her home, for a price: $795 for their software.

To apply online, the password cost close to $800, but Daniels was desperate and paid for it, in more ways than one.

Daniels got the paperwork in the mail, sent it off to their bank, and they were denied. She had no idea her application was doomed from the start.

Daniels bought her home in October of 2009, but to qualify for the "Making Homes Affordable" program, she had to have bought it before January of 2009!

So, why would HOPE representatives tell her she'd be approved, when there was no chance?

According to the Better Business Bureau, HOPE has an "F" rating, and there's a pending lawsuit against the company.

Investigators say the owners of HOPE knowingly told homeowners across the country they'd be approved, when most, like Daniels, were denied. The lawsuit also accuses the company of making homeowners pay for the same software Daniels bought - the same software provided by the government for free!

Not to mention, HOPE owners were recently arrested, and charged with fraud for allegedly duping thousands of homeowners into paying them upwards of $3 million!

FOX6's Contact 6 wrote to both CitiMortgage, which is where Daniels makes mortgage payments, and also, the Treasury Department. Both denounced HOPE, saying neither has any affiliation with the company.

This is little consolation for Daniels, who, at this point, is just trying to make ends meet.

"I was devastated because it's hard to make the mortgage payment right now. I just hope I can help somebody else from not getting scammed," Daniels said.

Contact 6 advises homeowners to never make a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage company, unless you have its specific approval, and never sign papers, or pay for services without first checking the company's background with the Better Business Bureau.