Scammed in Dove Springs
Homeowners allege predatory lending practices
Some 20 Dove Springs residents gathered Monday evening to share stories of being allegedly scammed out of their homes by an unsavory real estate practitioner, calling on state regulatory agencies to take action.
The homeowners – most of them only Spanish-speaking – accuse Jeff Evans of taking advantage of their lack of English language comprehension, leading them to agree to financially prohibitive mortgage terms without realizing what they were signing up for. One resident said his balloon mortgage payments increased exponentially after the fifth year – something not adequately explained to him, he claims – causing him to lose his home. Another said Evans insisted he buy expensive insurance or risk losing his home. Others spoke of being stuck with thousands of dollars in late fees.
"These people are being cheated," said Brian McGiverin, an attorney with the Dietz, Lawrence, and McGiverin Law Center. Evans "has been flying under the radar, and we're putting him on the radar." To that end, those gathered at the Southeast Branch Library filled out forms detailing their plight to be forwarded to state regulators. Representatives of Senators Judith Zaffirini and Kirk Watson were on hand, along with lawyers from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and UT-Law students. "People like Jeff Evans are supposed to follow a set of rules when they want to do business," McGiverin said. "You all have been victims of broken laws, and the government wants to do something to protect you. The only way to do that is for them to hear from as many of you as possible."
Rafael Gomez, a homeowner for barely a year, described being made to pay $650 for paperwork related to his title he still hasn't seen. Moreover, property insurance he was told was required rose from $1,200 monthly to $2,361 – on top of the $1,231 mortgage payment for his family's three-bedroom home.
Salvador Villegas said he, his sister, and elderly mother were all evicted following an inability to cover late fees. "They went to $1,500 in a span of two months," he said of his sister's experience.
At press time, Evans' attorney, Jason P. Gorman, had not returned a call seeking comment.