Target 11 investigates mortgage company with ‘F' rating

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PITTSBURGH - A local man is facing a mortgage mess. He paid cold hard cash for his house, but the lending company is still foreclosing. So he called Target 11's Robin Taylor for help.

"I bought this house. Legally, it's all registered in the prothonotary's office. They money is there and I'm still getting foreclosed on," said Noel Norris of Leechburg, Pa.

I did some digging and discovered hundreds of similar complaints against Ocwen Loan Servicing. Last fall, the Better Business Bureau issued a warning about the company.

Homeowners say they've made their mortgage payments, but the company is foreclosing anyway. It's been a real nightmare for Norris.

His mother owned the house he grew up in. She fell behind on her mortgage payments, so Noel decided to buy the home.

Noel closed on the property Oct. 5, 2012. Ten days later, Ocwen Loan Servicing sent his money back along with a foreclosure notice.

"You buy the house. You send them the money for the house and they send it back to you?" I asked.

"The money was wire transferred to their account, guaranteed funds. It's in there. My attorney did that. They turned around and sent me a check back," said Norris.

The payoff quote was $74,000, but Ocwen is charging interest and penalties as if the money was never paid.

"It's kind of like if I go out and buy a car and then the car dealership comes to take the car back off me and they keep my money. I really don't see how that's not considered theft," said Norris.

The Better Business Bureau has a problem with Ocwen as well. The company has an F rating, with more than 1,600 complaints.

Most have to do with excessive fees and penalties.

"They work in the sub-prime mortgage industry. They're going to get complaints. Our concern, and your concern as a customer, is that they respond and take care of their customers," said Warren King, president of the Western Pennsylvania Better Business Bureau.

Ocwen is also being sued for allegedly violating consumer protection laws. I talked to a lawyer involved in one of those class action lawsuits on Skype.

"Are they having problems where they're making payments and their payments are not being credited?" I asked. "Yes, that's a frequent complaint I've received," said Eric Lechtizin, an attorney with Berter & Montague in Philadelphia.

Lechtzin says his clients are offered mortgage modifications that he calls unfair and deceptive.

"Virtually all of them have at least been threatened with foreclosure," said Lechtzin.

For Noel, it's been frustrating, but a settlement has finally been reached, allowing him to stay in his home. He told me he couldn't afford to fight Ocwen any longer.

"The legal system's not free. It might not be perfect, but it's not free, for sure," said Norris.

I reached out to Ocwen for their side of the story. The director of communications sent this statement:

"Ocwen is committed to preserving home ownership whenever possible. In this particular case, Ocwen worked directly with the customer to reach an agreeable resolution, which will allow them to remain in their home," Susan Fitzpatrick, Ocwen Financial Corporation.