Syracuse real estate company faces lawsuit for deed theft, mortgage rescue scam

Syracuse real estate company faces lawsuit for deed theft, mortgage rescue scam (MGN Online)

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Wednesday that he has filed a lawsuit against a Syracuse-based real estate company and its owners for allegedly engaging in a deceptive scheme to trick people into turning over ownership of their homes to the company.

The lawsuit accuses Rebecca Ausby and Joseph Holman, owners of Joseph Funding Company, Inc., of preying on homeowners who were struggling to pay their mortgage, at risk of foreclosure or interested in getting rid of hard-to-sell properties without any profit or loss.

The complaint alleges that Ausby and Holman promised consumers that they would manage properties prior to a sale by finding tenants, collecting the rent and paying the consumer's mortgage. An investigation by the attorney general's office discovered that Ausby and Holman allegedly used these services as a guise and later duped consumers into transferring their property's deed to Joseph Funding Company.

As a result, at least five homeowners lost ownership of their homes while remaining fully responsible for the mortgage payments.

“As we allege, Joseph Funding Company and its owners led consumers to believe they were acting in their best interests — but in actuality they stole properties from vulnerable homeowners, destroyed their credit, and then left them holding the bag on their mortgages,” Schneiderman said. “My office will not tolerate those who prey and capitalize on homeowners, and I encourage all New Yorkers to consider our tips to avoid scams.”

Homeowners told investigators that Ausby and Holman presented themselves as real estate professionals who had extensive experience managing properties and buying and selling homes, including those in economically depressed neighborhoods. According to the attorney general's office, homeowners who contacted the company were greeted with a recorded voicemail message saying that Joseph Funding Company could take over their mortgage payments right away.

Their website also identified dozens of properties that they were managing or had recently sold or rented, but Schneiderman's complaint alleges that the company has no connection to most of the properties listed.

Further, neither Ausby nor Holman are licensed by the New York State Department of State as real estate professionals.

According to the complaint, Holman and Ausby allegedly presented paperwork to the consumers to sign that included a deed transferring ownership of the property to Joseph Funding Company. After taking complete ownership of the property. Holman and Ausby did not take any responsibility for making the mortgage payments, according to the attorney general.

Holman and Ausby continued to own and rent the properties for monthly income but did not pay the monthly mortgage, nor did they inform consumers that they stopped paying the mortgage, the complaint said. Indeed, several customers didn't know they had defaulted on their mortgage until they experienced problems with their credit or were sued in a foreclosure action.

Homeowners at risk of foreclosure should reach out to the Attorney General’s office, which can connect them with a free, qualified housing counseling through the Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP).

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