Senior Legal Services Project Helps Victim of Mortgage Scam

By Andy Greensfelder

The 2009 recession pounded Bob Edmonds’ business as it did to so many. Edmonds, a client of Senior Legal Services Project, a program of San Luis Obispo Legal Assistance Foundation (formerly SLOLAC), found it impossible to keep up with his mortgage payments. Facing foreclosure, Edmonds searched for a Joan modification. Instead, he found American Home Rescue Foundation (AHRF). AHRF was a purported nonprofit. Instead of assisting, however, it scammed Edmonds and many others from around the country. AHRF offered a deal where the client transferred title to his house to AHRF and paid AHRF rent.

AHRF promised to get the lender to release the mortgage for the benefit of AHRF, a charity, and thereby enable the lender to obtain a charitable deduction. To establish its credibility, the AHRF principals created AHRF as a Wyoming not­ for-profit, created a set of legal documents, and hired a real estate professional on the east coast to hold conference-call seminars on the process and how to use the documents. Supposedly, after three years of paying rent, AHRF would deed the property back to the homeowner, free and clear of the mortgage.

Edmonds did transfer his home to AHRF which never approached the lender and failed to deed the home back to Edmonds. Fortunately, sensing things were amiss with AHRF, Edmonds obtained a loan modification from Chase Bank and was able to keep his mortgage in good standing. By the time he-came to Senior Legal Services Project (“SLSP”), the State ofNevada had
indicted the AHRF principals because of the scheme and had them extradited to Nevada. They were subsequently convicted and jailed. With AHRF no longer operating, and forfeiture of its charter pending, Edmonds didn’t know how he was going to regain title to his home. He didn’t have the thousands of dollars needed to hire a private attorney, and there was no hope of recovering attorney’s fees.

SLSP brought suit against AHRF for quiet title and cancelation of the deed from Edmonds to AHRF. Volunteer SLSP Attorney Douglas Hilton managed the case. Sunny Hawks, a former SLSP attorney volunteer who is now an associate with Frefl€rickson Pick, LLP, assisted with legal research. AHRF defaulted and Doug Hilton made his first court appearance in J 5 years (as an advocate) on behalf of Edmonds. Following a default prove-up hearing, Judge Garrett entered judgment in
favor of Edmonds. He now, finally, has title to his house.

San Luis Obispo Legal Assistance Foundation is a 50I(c)(3) nonprofit that serves low-income seniors, veterans, and disabled adults in need in San Luis Obispo County. To support the work that we do, please contact Executive Director Stephanie Barclay to volunteer your services: or visit the website to make a tax deductible donation:

SLOLAF will be holding its second annual fund­raiser: “A Night in Tuscany” at the home of Lisa and Michael Toke (aka “Villa Toke”) on October 10, 2015, from 4:00 p.m. -8:00 p.m. Guests will enjoy an Italian feast prepared by Jose Dahan Catering, music, a hosted bar, and a lively dessert and live auction with auctioneer Cody Dawson. We will also be recognizing our
outstanding attorney volunteers and our 2015 Access to Justice Advocate Sponsor, Ernst Law Group. Please join us for a fun evening that supports legal access to justice in SLO County.