Saturday, June 04, 2011

Homeowners Determined to Make Scammers Pay

Juana Castillo Quintanilla paid $3,500 to a real estate broker who promised to help her strike a deal with her bank to lower her monthly payments. The Latina, who faces imminent eviction, says he didn’t deliver. He refused to return her money, so last Thursday she went to his office with about a dozen other angry homeowners to demand a refund.

“Christopher Lim, shame on you,” the homeowners yelled, as they poured onto the 27th floor of a high-rise in the mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles, where the agent rents an office.
Hearing their shouts, Lim, dressed in a tidy gray suit, emerged from the conference room. Upon seeing video cameras, he shielded his face with a stack of papers, and turned and bolted down a corridor of identical office doors.

The homeowners continued to shout, “refund now,” as they chased after him. They lost sight of him, and believed that Lim hid in his office, before slipping out through the emergency exit when the hallway was clear.

“He’s not done a thing to this day,” Quintanilla said through a translator, adding she’s disappointed he “got away.” The Latina says she hired Lim after hearing an ad for his company, Neighborhood Credit Solutions, on Spanish-language radio. In the recession, work has slowed for her husband, a gardener, and the family’s income shrunk. Quintanilla says Lim promised to “fight” for her to stave off foreclosure, but that only involved submitting one loan modification application, which resulted in slightly lower payments that didn’t improve her situation.

But, Lim maintains that Quintanilla is just dissatisfied with the terms of the bank’s modification offer, which is out of his control.
“I’m not a bad person,” he said during a phone interview. There’s so much heat on my business. If they set this [confrontation] up on anybody, they could have looked like a bad person.”

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