Homeowners say foreclosure avoidance company defrauded them


by Adam Walser


Posted on September 23, 2011 at 6:31 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 23 at 8:07 PM

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - They say he offered to save their home from foreclosure but instead a Louisville couple was left with even higher rent bills and then an eviction notice.

And WHAS11 is finding similar stories as we look into the man they say scammed them.

Houses that are supposed to be saved from foreclosure are ending up being foreclosed on anyway.

And the man who is behind a company that promises to help people hold onto their homes may even be selling them to other people while the original owners are still listed on the mortgage.

For the 28 years Darlene and Steven Baker lived and raised their family at 720 Tin Dor Way, it was their dream home.

But then Darlene lost her job.

After years of struggle, they couldn't pay the mortgage and faced foreclosure.

That's when she says Russ Daniel, of Russ Daniel Properties, stepped in.

“He was gonna take over my 1st and second mortgages and we signed our title over to him,” said Darlene Baker.

The Bakers said they planned to buy the house back, by leasing it from Daniel. They made large payments for two years.

“We couldn't afford a thousand dollars a month for the rent, so he had it where we were gonna be evicted,” said Darlene Baker.

What Russ Daniel failed to tell them was that Daniel never took the property out of their names and stopped making payments on it nearly two years ago.

During that time, Daniel Properties entered into a lease-to-own agreement with Daniel Mason and his wife.

“We were gonna live here for quite a while,” said Daniel Mason.

Mason paid $5,000 down and $1,000 a month to Daniel.

The Masons now face eviction, since the house was foreclosed on and purchased by someone other than Daniel at a county auction in July.

Louisville Attorney Scott Abell represents two clients who he says were defrauded over the same house.

“He was preying upon people who were vulnerable and desperate,” said Abell.

In the past year, 11 foreclosure cases have been filed in Jefferson County involving homes that Daniel placed in trusts after agreeing to help the owners avoid foreclosure.

“My investigation has revealed that his conduct is widespread,” said Abell.

He believes that several dozen or more people may be affected.

We tried to reach Russ Daniel at his office, but no one was there.

We spoke to him on the phone, but he referred all questions to his attorney, who said he would return the call next week.