WRAL Investigates

Foreclosure delayed for Granville couple

Posted March 14, 2014 5:53 p.m. EDT
Updated March 15, 2014 10:57 a.m. EDT

— A Granville County couple received a reprieve Friday when the foreclosure auction of their home was put off for six weeks.

"It gives us some hope, but, obviously, it's not a day to jump up for joy. No, it's not," Brenda Williams said.

When Ronald Williams lost his job in 2009, he and his wife fell behind on their mortgage. After attempts to refinance failed, the couple was enticed by a television commercial for The Mortgage Law Group and paid the firm $5,000 to help prevent BB&T from foreclosing on them.

"The Mortgage Law Group gave them six months of stories about, 'Don't worry about your mortgage. We got you covered. We got your back. Don't make your payments, just pay us,'" said Ann Saccoccio of the DuRant Law Firm, who is trying to help the Williamses keep their home. "They were able to rob this couple of their home and their trust."

The North Carolina Attorney General's Office ordered The Mortgage Law Group to stop doing business in North Carolina in October 2011 – seven months before the Williamses signed up with the firm. North Carolina is now part of a multi-state investigation into the company, which had offices in Chicago and Florida.

A 2005 state law made it illegal to charge an upfront fee for foreclosure assistance.

The law firm behind The Mortgage Law Group was connected to a debt relief firm called Legal Helpers. One local attorney took Legal Helpers to court and reached settlements on behalf of clients who, like the Williamses, paid money, but got no help.

The Attorney General's Office also is investigating Legal Helpers and another company possibly linked to The Mortgage Law Group, Consumer First Legal Group.

The law firm representing BB&T didn't give a reason why Friday's foreclosure sale was postponed. The reason isn't important for the Williamses, who hope to attract a private lender in the next few weeks to help them stop the sale altogether.

"It's something that we wouldn't wish on anybody," Brenda Williams said.