Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has won a temporary restraining order and asset freeze to stop a Houston woman from unlawfully exploiting distressed homeowners, some of them elderly, who now face foreclosure and eviction.

The action alleges that Bobbie Heckard fraudulently took possession of the home of an 85-year-old Houston man under the guise of helping the homeowner prevent foreclosure. The man allegedly was led to believe he was only allowing Heckard to consult with his mortgage company, but the transaction allowed her to take ownership of his home.

“This is an alarming trend we are beginning to see in Texas, and I caution every homeowner to be wary of solicitations for foreclosure relief,” said Attorney General Abbott.

The order also cites Heckard’s associate, Christopher Henderson, to whom she allegedly transferred ownership of the property after the Attorney General’s office contacted her about its investigation. Henderson promptly established a $67,000 mortgage on the property fraudulently transferred to him from Heckard.

Heckard’s scheme allegedly is designed to induce homeowners into transactions they would never consider if they knew the consequences. Heckard obtains a list of homes facing foreclosure, then tries to convince the homeowners that she offers foreclosure rescue services and will correspond with mortgage companies to resolve the problems.

She then persuades homeowners to sign forms allegedly authorizing her to contact the mortgage companies on their behalf. But the forms the homeowners sign are deeds transferring ownership in the homes to Heckard. Once Heckard obtains title to the property, she allegedly sells it, pockets the equity and threatens to evict the original homeowner.

The Attorney General’s suit, filed Tuesday, asks the court to force the defendants to relinquish all monetary gains derived from these transactions, return this money to all victims and restore their property to them. The suit also seeks a civil penalty of $250,000 if the court finds that the practices were calculated to exploit a person over age 65, plus $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

The judge will consider the Attorney General’s request for temporary injunction against the defendants in a hearing set for Sept. 12 in District Court.

Consumers may report what they believe to be fraudulent foreclosure relief operations by contacting the Office of the Attorney General at (800) 252-8011, or by visiting the agency’s Web site at www.oag.state.tx.us.

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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