IN AG: Companies Swindled Vulnerable Home Owners

Feb 2, 2016

The Indiana Attorney General filed suit against three companies accused of swindling home owners who are late paying their taxes.
Credit Joe Gratz / https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegratz/117048243

The Indiana Attorney General’s office has filed suit against three out-of-state companies accused of scamming tax delinquent property owners out of money and their homes.

Investigators say they noticed a pattern that revealed at least 48 property owners, mostly in Marion County, have been swindled.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a lawsuit Monday, alleging the companies are taking advantage of property owners who are late on their tax payments and don’t understand the tax sale process.

Zoeller accuses the companies of convincing homeowners to sell the deeds to their property for a few hundred dollars and walk away from their homes before the tax sale auction is complete.

“Homeowners who don’t know they’re entitled to the surplus can be conned into selling their title for little or nothing,” he says.

Zoeller says the companies then turn around and claim thousands of dollars in equity on the homes and profit from the tax sale auction.

Drew Carlson, the chief financial officer for the Marion County Auditor, says the actions are borderline criminal.

“What we’re seeing here is unbelievable,” he says. “This is definitely amped up quite a bit.”

Property owners who suspect they have been defrauded are asked to file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1-800-382-5516.

Zoeller says any distressed homeowner facing a tax sale or foreclosure due to non-payment should get advice from a qualified attorney before agreeing to turn over their deed.  

Free legal advice is available from the Indiana Foreclosure Prevention Network and Indiana Legal Services.