I get to represent people in some interesting circumstances … interesting as in the famous Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times.”
For instance, I’m handling a case right now arising from a scheme that looks legitimate, even to me. As I read it, the idea is to help people who can’t pay their mortgages by letting a third party buy their house, lease it back to them, and allow the buyer to use the equity for a certain period of time; there would be an out-clause in place so the arrangement didn’t become permanent.
Sounds like a noble pursuit, right? Well, the complaint filed by a Chicago legal aid organization says otherwise, and even goes into detail about the way that the bad-guys made it all happen. In fact the complaint goes into such detail that I began to speculate on how the lawyers for the plaintiffs figured it out with such accuracy. The only real explanation I could think of was that maybe the defendant had been up-front about what it was doing the whole time and that the “victims” had been looking for a hand-out when they got stuck with the consequences and began crying “poor me” to everyone from Oprah on down.
Of course that’s all speculation, right? Besides, everyone who had been “helped” by the program in question was in foreclosure anyway, so maybe they had not been helped at all. And, with whatever equity they once had taken by the company that put up the scheme, the unscrupulous and often unknowing middlemen, or the professionals who closed the transactions (title companies, lawyers, etc.), it looked like yet another case of the little guy getting screwed.
Funny thing is that the same idea was featured in this article in The Title Report, which talked about yet another fraud scheme disguised as a lifeline for people unable to pay their mortages. This time the scheme wasn’t just the use of equity, but an out-and-out flip to raise quick cash, coupled with inflated values for the properties being sold and resold. This, relatively more complicated, scam involved not only bogus sales but phony buyers, crooked appraisers, and title companies (and lawyers?) who were in on the take. Who says capitalism doesn’t work?