BBB says local mortgage company is defrauding homeowners

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A local company has been preying on people in danger of losing their homes, according to the Better Business Bureau and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Cooper obtained a court order against Charlotte-based Hazelton Management  in order to prevent the company from charging advanced fees on the rescue services it claims to provide.

The mortgage meltdown spawned a new business that both the BBB and Cooper are trying to shut down - companies that charge desperate homeowners up-front fees in exchange for promises that they can save their homes from foreclosure.

Lisa Austin, a single mother of four living in Charlotte, says she paid Hazelton $900 to save her home from foreclosure, but says she lost it anyway, when the company fell short of its promises.

She says Hazelton sent her a letter saying it could help save her home. So she scheduled a consultation with a manager there.

"He said he was really busy, so he kind of squeezed me in," Austin recalls. "He came to my house on an evening, about 8:00pm one night, and he was dressed very professionally. He had a suit and tie, he had a briefcase. He drove a black Bentley car."

That's right - a Bentley. Austin says he was a smooth talker, and she felt relieved. He promised to get her mortgage payments reduced from $1120 a month to $800.

But he wanted her to pay a preliminary fee.

"I never saw him again after he received the $900," Austin says.

And he never did anything to help Austin.

"I lost my home, my children lost their home," she says.

Tom Bartholomy, president of the Better Business Bureau, wants to get the word out about Hazelton Management.

"But there are still other so-called companies out there like it," Bartholomy says. "People still have to be on alert."

Your best bet - never pay any advance fees to any kind of debt reduction services.