I’ve been hearing this morning from a few people looking for phone numbers and help for folks they know who’ve been affected by this alleged real estate scam. I wrote about some of the victims in my story today.
The short answer is to call 619.531.4475. That’s the hotline that has been set up in a partnership between the district attorney, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals and the Housing Opportunities Collaborative, the nonprofit group of housing counselors that we’ve written about for their foreclosure clinics.
The group overseeing the hotline is in the middle of contacting people who’ve already called in. And they’ve now sent a letter in English and Spanish to the victims they haven’t received calls from, said Mike Groch, economic crimes division chief for the district attorney. The group will hold a workshop for those victims this weekend.
“We’re doing our best to get those folks steered in the right direction,” Groch said.
The challenge with outreach is that for victims like Emy Palacios in my story today, their addresses now belong to the bank or to another homeowner. And, whenever you get multiple agencies involved in something like this, the confusion is bound to increase.
On Thursday, I told you about the English/Spanish problem that had arisen in the Attorney General’s Office’s outreach to potential victims of the alleged foreclosure rescue scam announced three weeks ago.
Angela Rosenau, deputy attorney general, told me Thursday her office had decided to send its letters to victims not just in English but in Spanish too, since a large number of the victims they’d identified spoke only Spanish.
But a number of victims had yet to receive the mailing from the attorney general as of Monday. I heard that from a mortgage broker in Vista who’s been doing her own outreach to victims and has talked to more than a dozen.
I called Rosenau yesterday afternoon to see what happened.
Rosenau said her office had decided to hand over the responsibility for victim outreach to the DA’s office, via its hotline. She said that will help avoid confusion for homeowners and will allow her office to concentrate its efforts on reaching potential victims in other counties.
“We decided not to continue to pursue it (San Diego mailers) in the short term,” she said.
But she underscored the desperation that some homeowners feel right now, having been caught up in the alleged scam. She said those homeowners should call the DA’s hotline.
“Unfortunately, short term is all some of these people have,” she said.