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Texas University FCU helps 11 scammed homeowners
AUSTIN, Texas (8/20/08)--Eleven Hispanic families victimized by local home purchase fraud have been thrown a lifeline by University FCU (UFCU), Austin, Texas. The credit union will provide fixed-rate mortgage loans and a property deed that will allow the homeowners to retain the residences they bought earlier this decade in what turned out to be a scam, according to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The scam--conducted by Robert L. Flores of Cedar Park, Texas, and a company he operated, Galindo Trust--was directed at Hispanic home buyers who don’t speak English. Many lacked Social Security numbers or the documentation usually required of home purchasers, Abbott said. Abbott successfully sued Flores and Galindo Trust in May. Permanent injunctions with civil penalties totaling $1.4 million were ordered against the defendants. Flores’ company sold a group of homes it purchased from a healthcare organization that financed the purchase. Flores then resold the homes to buyers, but did not inform them of the pre-existing liens he owed. The homes were financed through a contract for deed--a mechanism that allows the seller to collect a down payment and monthly payments, but not deliver ownership to the buyer until the contract is paid in full. Flores collected taxes and insurance fees on the homes but failed to make payments, Abbott said. The credit union became aware of the situation in the fall of 2006 when UFCU employee Monica Muñoz alerted them to it and suggested that the credit union assist. Yvonne Lopez-Noack, mortgage lending officer at UFCU, began helping the families finance their homes through conventional means with a legitimate title. The closing of the new loans was conducted Friday at the Austin Bar Association. Why did the credit union get involved? “Part of a credit union’s mission is to help people of modest means,” Noack said. “These people made a down payment and paid their monthly installments in good faith, and they deserve to enjoy the benefits of homeownership. We’re thrilled to be able to assist them as a public service.”
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