NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
Victoria Velasquez and Melissa Bostick don't know each other, but they have a lot in common.
Both are single mothers. Both are recently divorced. Both became sudden homeowners.
And both are in financial trouble because they tried to solve their mortgage problems quickly without research.
These women dealt with individuals who promised to sell their homes and take care of their mortgages with no cash changing hands.
"It's amazing how anybody could do it, and how easily I could have done it, or anybody else could have done it," Velasquez said.
Both women signed documents that they thought were approving the sale of their homes.
"I explained to the gentleman that I would rather sell my home than lose my home," Bostick said.
Neither Velasquez nor Bostick saw the buyers, and pressure was intense to do the deal right away.
But they did not see any cash. And after the deeds were signed over, the buyers did not make the mortgage payments.
Now, months after these deals were done, both women find their houses are still in their names; have been rented to other people without their knowledge; and their banks are holding them accountable.
Jamie Jackson, also a single mom, got looped into the deal when she rented Victoria's house, thinking it belonged to the person who was collecting the rent.
"I would like to see whoever's doing this get caught, because I feel like it's tricking homeowners," she said.
Jackson looked into real estate records and found the deed had been transferred to a "land trust" with a mysterious "Juan Perez" listed as the trustee.
Tim Herriage has bought dozens of houses as a property investor. He says despite the permanence of a home, lots of buyers and sellers are attracted by a quick deal with people they've never met.
"If you're signing anything that has a name on it as a party in the transaction, I would definitely want to make sure that I put a face with a name," he said. "We had people that paid 10, 15, 20,000 more than a condo was worth, and bought it on eBay. And they came in from New York, New Jersey, and want to know why a house that was on the tax rolls for $30,000 was only worth 8 or 10."
Doris Czerny now claims to own Melissa Bostick's house. Bostick says Czerny even has even gained access to her bank accounts.
Czerny could not be contacted, but she told Bostick that for the deal to go through, she'd have to move out of her house quickly.
For the veteran buyer Herriage, a quick, high-pressure deal is a questionable transaction.
"'Sign this now.' 'It's only good today.' That's red flag No. 1," he said.
For Melissa Bostick and Victoria Velasquez, their deals done in a hurry will now take years to undo.