December 20, 2007
Local Credit Union Helps Victims of Home Fraud
Austin, TEXAS — December 20, 2007 —
Austin’s largest credit union, University Federal Credit Union (UFCU), has stepped in to help 10 Hispanic families victimized in a local home purchase fraud.
UFCU said recently that it is providing mortgage loans that will allow the homeowners to retain their property, which they bought earlier this decade in what turned out to be a scam operated by Robert L. Flores, Jr. of Cedar Park.
Flores and his company, Galindo Trust, were successfully sued by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and permanent injunctions with civil penalties totaling $1.4 million were ordered against the defendants last May in Austin.
Abbott said the scam targeted Hispanic home buyers who do not speak English, some of whom lacked Social Security identification or other documents normally required of purchasers.
UFCU mortgage lending officer Yvonne Noack, herself of Mexican-American heritage, is assisting the families to finance their homes through conventional means with a legitimate title. She says the credit union stepped in to help after another Hispanic employee became aware of the situation and suggested UFCU investigate how it could help.
A call to Attorney General Abbott’s office led to meetings with Volunteer Legal Services of Travis County and conferences with the defrauded homeowners.
In the fraudulent home-selling scheme, Flores’ company sold homes that he bought as a group from Shriners Hospital, which financed his purchase. Flores then re-sold the homes but did not tell the buyers of the pre-existing liens he owed. He also collected for taxes and insurance but failed to pass on the payments.
UFCU’s Noack first stepped into the case August 2006 and talked with the worried homeowners in Spanish about their situation. However, all parties had to wait to act further until a court finalized legal action last May.
Noack says the next step is to meet again with the homeowners and an attorney from Volunteer Legal Services to obtain signatures on loan applications and review rates and fees.
UFCU will charge its mortgage portfolio interest rate as of the time the loan applications were first prepared fall 2006 but will avoid some typical fees like an appraisal by using the Travis County Appraisal District valuation on the homes.
The homeowners will pay only the balance actually remaining due to the Shriners on their individual homes following foreclosures that were part of the Attorney General’s legal action against Flores and Galindo Trust.
“This will secure the homes in the occupants’ names at a substantially lower price,” said Noack, and they won’t lose their property.”
Why would UFCU get involved and finance mortgages for people who may not have access to conventional financing?
“We’re doing it as a community service and as a service to these families. An important part of a credit union’s mission is to help people of modest means,” says Noack.
UFCU serves more than 125,000 members and has just under $840 million in assets. For more information about UFCU’s accounts and services, visit www.ufcu.org.