Carlos Granda, KABC
An Eyewitness News and California Watch investigation found that families across California were being sued after they lost their homes to foreclosure.
Mina Shahab lives in a cramped apartment in Woodland Hills. She shares it with her brother who is stricken with cancer. A few years ago, she took out two loans and bought a spacious four-bedroom home in Northridge.
It was the American dream for the native of Iran who came here looking for freedom. But she lost her job, and then lost her home to foreclosure.
“I love this country, and seeing this happen to its citizens is very painful,” she said.
This should have been the end of the story. Once a house is sold in foreclosure, California law protects homeowners from being pursued for any other debts on the same property. But Shahab started to get calls from a company she had never heard of before.
“They were terrible,” she said.
Shahab was being pursued by a company in Plano, Texas, called Heritage Pacific Financial. They wanted money for her second mortgage.
“They were after me to really scare me first by threatening me,” she said. “(They said) this is fraud and I said what fraud? I bought a house, I was a realtor, I had income,” she said.
The company is run by Chris and Ben Ganter, identical twin brothers who starred in their own reality TV show about making money in the real estate boom. The company says California law allows them to collect on second mortgages where they can prove borrowers committed fraud.
Several years ago with the housing market in panic, Heritage Pacific bought 40,000 second mortgage notes on foreclosed homes in California, looking for borrowers to sue.