Just under a dozen distressed homeowners affiliated with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) gathered in front of a sporting goods store in Koreatown within walking distance of three businesses alleged to have defrauded two of their members of cash paid out for loan modifications that did not materialize.
After congregating at 11 a.m. on Thursday in preparation for what the group has dubbed a “scam action,” they strolled across Wilshire Boulevard and up to the 22nd floor offices of the Genesis Law Group, a firm that advertises itself as a “bankruptcy law specialist.” Once inside, two of their members, Ronald and Valerie Jackson, demanded the return of money the couple had submitted to Attorney Daniel King for help in securing a bankruptcy, a legal action for which the Jackson say the company never even filed the paperwork.
The Jacksons, both civil servants who have lived in their Carson home for 27 years, are like many couples in today’s rough-and-tumble economy–anxious for a reprieve from their financial difficulty that would allow them to remain in their home.
Employees of Genesis warned the group that the police would be called, and those gathered, including ACCE coordinator Peggy Mears, encouraged them to do so.
After perhaps a half hour of drama in which King hid in one of the offices within the suite as disgruntled visitors chanted, “the people united can never be defeated” and other slogans, while a battery of receptionists and office staff begged or threatened the ACCE members to leave, the Jacksons received a check for $1,000.
Valerie noted that she and her husband have engaged three other businesses to help with modifications. In many cases, these companies or individuals have moved, or simply changed company names or phone numbers to complicate efforts by their dissatisfied customers to track and identify them. In essence, the Jacksons and other clients who have engaged them for financial services that never materialized will have to write these expenditures off.
After achieving this small success, the group went to a firm that had taken $1,500 from Dina and Victor Beltran of North Hollywood under similar circumstances, and replicated the above scenario, but were unsuccessful in collecting a refund.
The group then made their way to still another venue on Wilshire called Homezip Realty. After repeating their scam-action tactics, the involved parties relented and cut the Beltrans a check for $1000.
ACCE plans to continue to confront such businesses, and take the additional step by proclaiming Nov. 5 as “Take Your Money Out of the Bank Day.” On Saturday, ACCE members are encouraged to withdraw all their money from accounts in banks and financial institutions deemed to have engaged in unfair lending practices.
Mears is reaching out to other distressed homeowners.
“Anyone having problems with foreclosures, or feel they are being otherwise scammed, are encouraged to contact www.homedefendersleague.org, or to call the ACCE telephone number at (213) 863-4548.”
Other plans in the immediate future include a week of action similar to the “Make the Banks Pay to Refund California” mass mobilizations that took place in early October.