Domingo Hic is a hard working homeowner who says he has never missed a payment on the Desert Hot Springs home he has owned since 2004. He keeps a file filled with monthly mortgage statements and paid property tax bills to prove it.
Two years ago, the property tax bill never came, so Hic went to the treasurer's office to pay it. That's when he was shocked to discover his home had been foreclosed on.
"They said, 'You know, Domingo, the house doesn't belong to you anymore.' Hic explained. "The house belongs to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage corporation, Freddie Mac."
The problem was a paper work mix-up. Hic's next door neighbor was foreclosed on, and that home's mortgage papers with Chase Morgan mistakenly listed Hic's lot as part of the property in default.
"They took two houses for one price," Hic said.
Hic called his lender, Bank of America, to straighten things out.
"The Bank of America says you are ok with us," Hic said. "You don't have a problem with us. You have to call Chase Morgan. I went with Chase Morgan. They said let me check your name. No. You are not in the system. I was like a ping pong ball. And they don't do nothing for me."
So Hic gets a lawyer to protect his home from being taken by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. An Indio court judge rules in Hic's favor, but Freddie Mac's lawyers appeal to a Riverside Court, which dismisses the case without a hearing.
"After they try to get my house because they have three lawyers against me and ask me for $50,000 bond in case I lose the case," Hic said. "And they say, you know it was a mistake, we're going to give you your house back, but we don't pay nothing for the attorney."
The process took two years, and it's almost over. The whole time, Hic kept making mortgage payments and paying property taxes on a home no longer in his name. The title looks like it will be transferred back to him, but the chef who gets up at 4 o'clock every morning to provide for his family and put a daughter through college, is out $25,000 in court fees and payments to his lawyer.
"Actually this is my last resource," Hic said. "To come over here with the TV (reporter). To show it to the public, because for sure, I am not the only person this is happening to. So many people, because they don't want problems, they leave the houses. Then, Freddie Mac takes it, sells it, and they are making money at that."
There are some free resources available to help homeowners like Hic:
The Fair Housing Council of Riverside County can be reached at (800) 655-1812 or on-line at http://fairhousing.net
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can be reached at (877) 622-8525 or on-line at www.hud.gov/fha
Those who feel they have been a victim of a crime contact the County of Riverside District Attorney's Real Estate Fraud Unit by calling (877) 723-7779 or by e-mail at REFraudUnit@RivCoDa.org