LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) — They were desperate and turned to him for help, but a lawyer promising to rescue homeowners had other intentions. In this Rip-Off Alert out of Chicago, people were on the brink of foreclosure, but the man who was supposed to help is instead charged with stealing their money.
Jeff Lyon and his family are hoping to hold on to their home after getting duped in a bankruptcy scam.
“Right now, we’re waiting for a knock on the door from the sheriff’s office to tell us to get out of the house,” he said.
“When the economy took a dump on everybody, we fell behind on our mortgage. I was also hurt at work. I was in a coma for a month and a half. When I got out of the hospital, we were too far behind, and the bank wouldn’t work with us anymore.”
Lyon turned to Philip Igoe – an attorney who worked with clients facing foreclosure. Igoe offered to help by filing for bankruptcy protection or a loan modification.
“The victims were under financial distress based on their home mortgage,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Brett Leonard. “That’s why they were desperate to seek out help of a professional.”
Postal inspectors say Igoe was running a scam. First, he would ask for fees upfront, which could be between $500 and $600.
“They were also asking the victims to pay the mortgages to the attorneys, and he would forward the money to the mortgage company,” Leonard said.
But Igoe never forwarded the money to the mortgage company. He kept it for himself. Lyon is now on the verge of losing his home.
“How do you go to your kids and tell them you have to move out of the house you grew up in because I lost it,” Lyon said.
Annette Adams — another of Igoe’s victims — is heartbroken after losing the house her father gave her.
“I don’t know where this money went to; I don’t know what he did,” Adams said. “He scammed me not once but three times.”
Postal inspectors say 15 people were caught in Igoe’s scheme, and there were hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.
“This was a very specific scam,” Leonard said. “I would suggest consumers seeking doctors or lawyers look at the regulatory websites to see if there have been any prior disciplinary actions to the people they are seeking business from.”
Lyon has his own advice.
“Don’t trust anybody,” he said. “Get everything on paper. Everything. Double check everything they are doing.”