Around 250 southern California homeowners became the victims of their worst nightmare when they believed a “mortgage relief business” owner who promised he would save their homes. Instead, they were scammed out of approximately $1 million AND they lost their homes. He also bilked $55 million from the financial institutions as well.
Jeff McGrue, along with several other conspirators contacted desperate homeowners facing foreclosures, telling them his company, Gateway International could save their homes. He worked with Gerald Guidry who owned a company called My Debt Solutions and Ronald Morgan who owned a company called Omnipoint.
McGrue paid unwitting real estate agents and others to act as his consultants to recruit customers who were either facing foreclosure or were underwater in their mortgages (upside-down meaning they owed more than their home was worth).
McGrue and his associates told the homeowners that “bonded promissory notes” drawn on a U.S. Treasury Department account would be sent to the homeowners’ banks and lenders paying off their mortgage loans. He assured the homeowners all foreclosure proceedings would stop, and the banks were required by law to accept the promissory notes. He also told the homeowners they could buy back their homes from his company, Gateway International. To sweeten the pot – he told each homeowner, they would get $25,000 regardless of whether they decided to repurchase their home or not.
Two women, who were real estate agents allegedly told homeowners they were going to court to put a lien on the properties so they would be safe from foreclosure, backing up McGrue’s story.
All the homeowner had to do is pay an upfront fee ranging from $1,500 to $2,000 and sign over the title to their home to Gateway – and then pay Gateway half of their previous mortgage amount as rent for as long as they lived in the house. To a homeowner currently paying $2,000 a month, a promise his new monthly rent would be $1,000. was a miracle. McGrue kept all the monthly payments they made as well.
As intelligent as people might be, only one person out of the nearly 250 even filed a complaint against Gateway! Why wouldn’t anyone contact an experienced Foreclosure Defense Attorney to protect their interests? To ensure Gateway was legitimate? The answer is pretty simple – when a homeowner is so vulnerable and desperate, they’ll grasp onto any ray of hope. People like McGrue know homeowners want to believe, and are easy targets.
Nothing McGrue told his victims was true. He didn’t own any bonds or have a U.S. Treasury account. The Treasury doesn’t even maintain accounts that can be used by third-party payments. Lenders aren’t legally obligated to accept bonded notes (which are worthless anyway). Gateway International had no intention of selling back the homes they had finagled out of the victims. McGrue, instead was going to sell them to unsuspecting buyers once he had title to them.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says scams like this are taking place all over the U.S. because of the uncertain economic times and offer ways to help make you aware of these schemes. The FTC says, avoid any business or person (including real estate agents) that: – Tells or convinces you NOT to contact an attorney – Offers a guarantee for a loan modification, or guarantee to stop the foreclosure process completely – Requests you transfer your property deed or title to them or ask for upfront fees – Pressures you to sign papers you haven’t had the chance to read thoroughly or you don’t understand
An investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into Gateway’s dealings began. A problem facing the FBI is they only have 94 people working nationwide fighting mortgage fraud – and these criminals are very creative.
McGrue was found guilty of four counts of mail fraud and four counts of passing fictitious government instruments to lenders and loan servicers and sentenced to 25 years in prison, Guidry was sentenced to 10 years, and Morgan to 5 years. It’s not known at this time if they’re actually in prison.
Strangely, using data from the California Secretary of State, a company profile updated May 15, 2012 shows Gateway International of Panama linking back to Jeff McGrue.
Homeowners did not get their homes back.
If you are facing foreclosure, please contact a foreclosure defense attorney. Foreclosure defense attorneys understand your property rights in a foreclosure. Foreclosure defense attorneys can refer you to a reputable real estate agent or other foreclosure help, if needed.
Keith A. Gantenbein, Jr. is a Colorado foreclosure defense attorney located in Denver and servicing all of Colorado. He also handles bankruptcies, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, real estate, civil litigation, contracts and landlord/tenant. If you think you will be facing foreclosure, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, contact Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.
This article is not intended as legal advice. The opinions of this article are solely the opinion of the author.