According to the Blog When Family Does You Wrong by International Interracial Dating Coach Lorraine Spencer. Hurt can be alot more harder to heal, when its done by family. The blog offers the readers to submit their stories and offers commentative support to its readers.
Lorraine Shares her Story on how this blog came about.
My Family's former home, By Lorraine Spencer
"Most people know me as Lo, but here at WFDYW, just call me "Undeserving". My family is among many who found themselves victims of mortgage schemes. Ours is a little different in that my brother and sister in law were the ones who took full advantage of us. The result was devastation, homelessness, rush to judgment and financial ruin. It is bad enough when a stranger or others take advantage, steal, deceive and do other horrible things to innocent victims. But when it is a member of your own family, it can be particularly devastating……
In April of 2010, my husband and I were presented with a proposal from my brother and sister in law Richard and Miranda. My family of four was living in a cramped two bedroom condo and had long outgrown it by the time our second child was born. My brother and his wife were going to relocate from Prince William County, Virginia to San Antonio, Texas with the DOD. Richard asked us if we could afford $2,000 a month until we could purchase their 5 bedroom, two car garage home. My husband and I discussed how we could sacrifice and jumped on the opportunity to move. I was a stay home mother with significant health challenges (on disability) but was willing to try and work part time. We went to a mortgage company, applied and qualified for a loan that was little more than what the home was then valued. We received a preapproval this letter, took it to my brother and presented it as we would not have to wait. We qualified for our dream home and could not have been happier. My children (a boy and a girl) needed their own rooms and in our new home, they would have more space than they knew what to do with and they would be so happy.
Little did we know Richard was working with someone who he thought was a "lawyer". He was a man named Robert Butler who had promised Richard and Miranda that he could get them a home remodification loan at a rate of 2 point something. According to Richard, this Robert Butler fellow told him that he should "absolutely NOT" sell to us because our realtor only wanted a commission. He advised Richard that he should wait until the loan process was complete. With that, we should have taken our letter elsewhere and we might be sitting in our own home today. But I had no reason to think Richard or Miranda had an agenda. In June, We decided to go ahead and rent the home for what we thought would be six months and then purchase. So we moved in, paying Richard $2,000.00 for the various pieces of broken furniture and appliances Richard and Miranda left. They cleaned the carpets but other than that, the place was filthy and the house was in need of repair. Our rent was to be $2,000.00 a month. We didn't care as we had our home - so we thought.
We needed a lease to show proof of residency for the new school. Butler or one of his partners presented a lease that appeared to come off the Internet. My then 10 year old could have done a better job. It was riddled with errors. I felt then that Richard was putting his trust in a shady character. I definitely knew that Butler was no lawyer and told Richard as much. It didn't seem to matter since he believed so much that they were getting a new loan. I didn't question my brother any longer but could not shake the uneasiness I felt after looking at that lease. It served the purpose and got the children into school but even the school secretary noticed the error-riddled document. Looking at Butler's business card, my doubts were confirmed that the word lawyer belonged nowhere in the same sentence as this man's name. My realtor called Butler and he refused to speak with her so there were clear signs that something was not right.
Richard and Miranda moved to San Antonio, Texas as planned. Almost immediately people started showing up at the house looking for them to serve notices. One person said that they had not paid their mortgage in months. I reported it to Richard and he told me that Butler was handling it. Someone came nearly every week. Mail came from two banks which I was to forward to Butler; to whom my brother was still referring as his lawyer. We had settled in quite nicely despite these notices. The children were so happy in their rooms, with their new schools and new friends. My husband was in his element in the garden out front planting shrubs and all kinds of flowers; and learned he had quite the green thumb. Fast forward to Thanksgiving and we would celebrate our first dinner in our own home. We had a guest come up to stay with us. I had furnished every room in the home except the dining area. Our guest room was very comfortable for our family friend, complete with a large television and cable to boot.
The Monday after Thanksgiving a sheriff's deputy showed up to serve a summons to Richard and Miranda. They were not there so they could not be served. I started to get worried and called Richard right away. He said as always, Butler would handle it. I asked him about the mortgage and Richard assured me that it was being paid. That was a relief because we were struggling to pay the rent and the high utilities as it was hot in the summer and it snowed that winter. The deputy returned while I was out and left the summons taped to the door. I called Richard again and he tried to assure me that all was well. All was not well as we would find out a week later.
I came home from depositing the December rent into Richard's bank account to find a note on the door. The note said that the property at our address had been foreclosed on and sold at auction and that the occupants were to vacate immediately. My heart sank to my feet. I was devastated and called Richard right away. Richard called Butler who was still running his game and tried to blame me for not getting paperwork to him. I was not having it as I told him when things were happening. Then I thought, "What was happening to the money we were struggling to send Richard every month?" I questioned my brother and he tried to then assure me that the mortgage was being paid. I did not buy it but wanted to still see if there had been a misunderstanding at two different banks. How naïve!
I assumed (though not sure) that Butler had advised Richard and Miranda to stop paying their mortgage which is unethical by the way unless you are filing for bankruptcy. So they thought they would get some easy money from us. We never expected to live anywhere for free, but we were fine in our cramped two bed room condo. We could afford the rent and were truly looking to someday move into an affordable home. Richard and Miranda saw sucker, we took the bait and they took our money. It is as simple as that. Entering into an agreement when they knew the house would go into foreclosure does constitute fraud. But because I can't prove that, legally, I guess they did not break the law by charging us. But one thing Richard and Miranda did know was that they were not making their mortgage payments and involved my innocent and unsuspecting family into their mess! Who knows, maybe they even broke a tax laws because I am sure they did not claim the money received from us as income to the IRS. Whether or not they broke any civil or criminal laws, they did break a moral law in my opinion and they will have to give an accounting to God for those actions.
I contacted the new owner who assured me that the title company did its homework, and the he purchased the home at an auction that had been publicly announced. He gave me phone numbers to verify which I did. I called Richard one last time to ask for our money back. We had to leave our home and were technically homeless. I called my sisters who were just as heartbroken as I was. The person who I did not call was my husband. This fiasco was on a Wednesday and he was due to speak at church later that evening. Had I told my husband, he would not have been able to speak. So I waited until church was over and broke the bad news.
I hurt so badly for him as my poor husband was in a state of shock. He had a blank look on his face as if he had been stabbed in the heart. He had been stabbed in the heart and in the back by members of my own family. We had to make some pretty quick decisions as the new owner of the home decided to come and meet with us to discuss options. He came over the next day. I asked my sister who lived nearby to come over so she and her husband could be witnesses. When the new owner came over, he saw that we were true victims in the worst way as the couple behind it was indeed my own family. We actually found it odd that the new owner said he saw this all the time, with strangers and families alike. He saw how nicely I had decorated the home and felt sorry for us and suggested that I file a lawsuit against my brother and sister in law in court. What saved us was that fact that we did have a lease, if that is what you want to call it. We found that many renters fell victim to unscrupulous landlords and those who had financial problems although they had paid their rent on time every month.
Under the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009, the new owner had to honor our lease until June of 2011, but he had the option to raise the rent and make it even more difficult for us to pay. Had he chosen to live in the home, we would have had 90 days to vacate anyway. But the new owner made it clear that he wanted to sell the property right away. He did not raise the rent because we asked for 90 days. But we still had to pay him for those remaining months. Thankfully, this man had compassion and actually lowered the rent $500.00. We no longer afford the same house we had more than qualified for just six months earlier. Our credit spiraled downward from there as it had taken two hits from paying our car payment late - payments made late due to paying rent to Richard.
We had to swing into action. We had no idea what we were going to do. My husband was dealing with so much stress on his job that this pushed him over the edge. Normally he could have dealt with everything on his job as he had for 12 years, but he could not get over the loss of our home and feeling like he was not being a provider. We were both upset that we did not run the other way when presented with this proposal by Richard and Miranda. How were we going to move our things out? Where were we going to go?
I was so embarrassed I just wanted to disappear. By January my husband was under so much strain, and fearing a heart attack (he has heart trouble) I suggested he quit his job. We were starting over anyway, so why not start fresh? Having wanted to return to Alaska where I attended the university in the 90s, I suggested we move. My husband had never considered relocating there before but ater all this mess, he did consent. We felt we had nothing left to lose. There were always jobs up there for which my husband was more than qualified. He applied for one of those positions and got it. Now how we were faced with getting to Alaska.
We decided to have an estate sale as we needed move quickly. We made a whopping $3,000 on everything that we had worked hard for the previous 14 years. $1,600 of that went to the woman who organized the sale for her fees. It was sad to see our nice things practically given away, or stolen as some of the things just could not be accounted for with so many people in and out of the house.
If Richard and Miranda had just done a simple Internet search on Robert Butler who had by now stopped returning Richard's calls, they would have found all kinds of accusations and complaints against him. They may have even found that the Maryland Attorney General was investigating Butler's company. But I could care less that Richard and Miranda were scammed. I cared that my family was pulled into their financial shenanigans and would pay a higher price than they did. My family did not deserved this! "Undeserving" became our new name. My family has been severely hurt. This is what it feels like when family does you wrong.
What about our kids? Well, as much as we tried to hide it, they knew something was wrong. Whether or not it was my bouts of crying and code talk, or packing up our things gave it away; they knew something was amiss. My daughter did not want to leave her new school as she had dedicated teachers there. She did not want to leave the new friends she had made. Even my autistic son said he did not want to go to Alaska on his last day of school.
The time finally came for us to head out. We said our goodbyes to neighbors, friends and church family. We packed up all we could, boxed the rest and put it in storage where it remains. We headed out for a trek that would take us across the US and Canadian countryside. The roads were not as bad as I had imagined, but they were treacherous enough once driving on the Alaska Canada Highway. It was a different hotel every night until we finally made it to North Pole. We did not plan properly at all and made a rush decision because we needed to leave. Going to Alaska did not work out. We stayed in the Hotel North Pole for 12 weeks because I could not find adequate housing, but my husband did start his job and the children started their school. That hotel stay cost us a fortune. It did help a little that the staff became like family to us and we met some other nice families. I finally found a place and we settled in but ran out of money as we only had Joe's retirement to live on. His salary was cut and half of that went to medical benefits which left us short for rent every month. Then two of my husband's subordinates did nothing but mistreat and set him up the entire time he worked there. He was starting to resent the job and never forgot to thank Richard and Miranda for putting us in this terrible situation. No, nobody told us to hike up to Alaska but had we not moved into that house in the first place, my family would still be in Alexandria, VA and not displaced in the middle of winter.
Speaking of winter, the greater Fairbanks area was coming off a season of the harshest weather the city had seen in years. It was still cold but within a month, the ice was gone and the daylight was all day (and night). The summer was good, but financially things were getting worse. I had to reach out to my family and friends for help. My other siblings stepped up to the plate to help us out but we had to make another change. My husband had applied to federal jobs across the country and was getting interviews. By January, he had interviewed with several agencies and started receiving offers from around the country. When the offer came from Los Angeles, we had to go. But the new job was not paying for relocation and we were in another predicament. Thankfully we had just enough of my husband's retirement left to pack up what we could take, put our vehicle on a ferry and sail down to the Canadian border at Washington State.
The children were happy to leave Alaska as my daughter could not adjust. There was bullying at North Pole Middle School where she only made a few new friends. She missed Virginia terribly and all I could do was hold her when she cried "I want to go home, I want to go home!" I tried to explain that there was no home to go back to. Her anxiety was only relieved when I told her that we were leaving as dad had got a job offer in sunny Los Angeles. They did not like having to ride the bus to school in temperatures that got to 51 degrees below zero anyways. But the bus came everyday and unless they were sick, they went to school, in the dark, in the winter. The only thing we really miss about our Alaskan sojourn was the beautiful group of people we left at the church. They were absolutely wonderful!
When we got to Los Angeles, the people at the new church welcomed us with open arms. A couple of the sisters reached out before and after we arrived to help make our transition smoother. We had to stay in a hotel for nearly a month while we tried to find housing in a nice area of West Los Angeles. We were in a rush as the kids had already been out of school for 3 weeks. We finally found a place and got the kids enrolled into school. It was hard because all of my husband's retirement was gone and I had to once again call on family members who were already stretched thin, but they came through. Even Richard and Miranda sent $500 to help us get into the apartment after some intervention from my parents. But if they were to return some more of the money we gave them, our situation could be relieved a little. No chance of that happening. I am thankful for the help, but I have to balance that against everything that has happened. Richard doesn't think that he nor his wife did anything wrong and will not acknowledge his part in displacing my family nor for our financial ruin. It will take years to rebuild our credit.
Richard believes that we should be happy with what little money he sent back. I say it was about $4,200 and he says $5,000. Neither amount is adequate seeing that we spent well over $15,000 to get into and maintain that house. I guess I could be happy if we were not sleeping on air mattresses, or if I had a set of pots and pans, or if I my children had clothes, if I had enough to buy gas and groceries at the same time; or if I did not have to pick and choose which prescriptions I would fill because I don't have enough money, maybe I could be happy with that. But we have been struggling to get back on our feet and it will be a slow process. We have left a string of unpaid bills that we plan to pay when we can. We can't now as we simply don't have it to pay. Some people understand our situation, and some do not care and I understand when business is business. With an autistic or special needs child, we should have long had a living trust in place to care for our son when my husband and I are no longer here to care for him (and for my daughter too as this role may fall on her). But now, we are living on Faith that God will protect, guard and guide us. We have learned some valuable lessons and will continue to count on our Faith and prayer to get us through.
I am forgiving and have forgiven but I have to admit it was hard. I was bitter for a while, given to fits of crying because we didn't have enough money for gas or food at times. We did not qualify for any assistance programs based on my husband's salary. I still have to look at my children and explain why they can't go to even the cheap places. I have to explain that my daughter won't be getting new school clothes this year, only basics and shoes. There are no music, art or karate lessons for now. We have to budget everything and live paycheck to paycheck like so many other Americans.
I am determined to help my family recover and move forward. I believe that there can be a blessing in almost every tragedy and I am still looking for ours. Having experienced all that we have, I would still give my brother a bowl of soup or feed him if he and my sister in law were hungry. I am facing a few health challenges but hope that I will be able to return to the work force in some capacity. We will not make it unless I can bring in some supplemental income. I am a writer and hope to get a few books published along with magazine articles. I also write song lyrics and hope to write for American and international recording artists, recording studios or music publishing houses. I am also a relationship coach and am looking forward to expanding that business as well. There is hope!
This website was created for cathartic reasons. I looked for a resource online where I could find a website dedicated to stories of wrongdoing by a family member and I could not find one. So I started this site as I wanted to share my story and invite others who have been wronged by a family member (or someone like family) to share their stories. Thanks for reading".
Share your story and let the healing begin!