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After law enforcement officials identified at least 400 local victims of what they’ve called a foreclosure-rescue scam, they began efforts to contact those victims.

The district attorney (bringing criminal charges) relied on the media to circulate a hotline number, while the attorney general (with a civil suit) mailed a letter, a press release and a form for homeowners to claim their losses. They found the addresses easily, because any homes that had been deeded over showed up in county public records as now owned by one of the LLCs named in the announcement of the alleged scam.

Officials said a large number of the potential victims of the alleged scam speak only Spanish. But those initial packets were written nearly entirely in English, with a single sentence in Spanish at the bottom of the letter advising non-English speakers to call a phone number.

I called the Attorney General’s Office Tuesday to ask about the language issue, after hearing a complaint from a North County real estate broker.

That broker was concerned that homeowners who didn’t understand the mailer and didn’t hear the news might still think their homes will be saved from foreclosure by the defendants’ company, Federal Land Grant Co., or one of the affiliated LLCs named in last month’s announcement. That broker was translating the letter herself, and buying pizza for her two daughters — also agents — to enlist their help to stuff envelopes, hand-address them and mail them out to the victims they could find addresses for.

This afternoon, I talked to Angela Rosenau, deputy attorney general, who said the office has now sent out a Spanish-language version of the mailer and the press release.

“After your phone call, that really bothered me, so we have been making an effort to do that,” she said.

The district attorney’s hotline for victims has received about 200 calls, representing only about half of the estimated pool.

KELLY BENNETT

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