Desperate homeowners targeted in scam
Lawyer accused of stealing money from families on the brink of foreclosure
CHICAGO, Ill. – They were desperate and turned to him for help. But a lawyer promising to rescue homeowners on the brink of foreclosure, is now charged with stealing their money instead.
"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," said Jeff Lyon.
Lyon and his family are hoping to hold on to their home after getting duped in a bankruptcy scam.
"When the economy took a dump on everybody, we fell behind on our mortgage," Lyon explained. "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. Investigators say Igoe offered to help by filing for bankruptcy protection or a loan modification.
"The victims were under financial distress based on their home mortgage that's why they were desperate to seek out help of a professional," explained US Postal Inspector Brett Leonard.
Postal inspectors say Igoe was running a scam. First, he would ask for fees upfront, which could be between $500 and $600.
"And they were also asking the victims to pay the mortgages to the attorneys and he would forward the money to the mortgage company," said Leonard.
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," asked Lyon.
Annette Adams, another alleged victim, 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… he scammed me not once but three times," said Adams.
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. 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," warned Leonard.
Lyon has his own advice.
"Don't trust anybody," he said. "Get everything on paper. Everything. Double check everything they are doing."
Philip Igoe is charged with mail fraud, bankruptcy fraud and obstruction of justice. His wife, Stacy, also faces federal charges for lying to cover up the scheme.
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