FAIR LAWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Imagine living in your home for 20 years, making payments every month, then one day having a sheriff show up with a moving truck to force you out.It sounds impossible, but as CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, it’s a lot easier than you might think to end up the victim of a stolen home.“It’s a nightmare,” Josephine Nisevic said.Nisevic and her husband, Nick, were technically trespassing on their own property when they looked at the empty house with CBS2’s Brennan.“It kills me that I can’t go inside my house,” she said.
They can’t go inside, because the Fair Lawn home no longer belongs to them. It was stolen.
“You work. You work hard for what you have, and then things like this happen,” Nisevic said.
It all started in 2005, when the couple received an offer in the mail to refinance and consolidate their bills.
“It looked great. My husband said, ‘Oh, look at this, they fix your credit,’ so we went along with it,” Nisevic said.
What the couple didn’t know was that it was all an elaborate scheme to steal their deed and strip the equity from their house.
“What happens here in these situations, people start to think that oh, this is part of the process. They end up giving out this information, and then that information can be used to prepare all of these documents, and forge signatures, and all the rest, and then that person is out of a home,” attorney Chris Cabanillas said.
Dozens of other local homeowners also fell victim to the same scam artists known as Rivertown Financial Service. The company has since been shuttered and the principals sent to jail.
But Nisevic’s story doesn’t end there.
“Imagine, losing your home. Your kids grew up there, you put that little line on that doorway every time your little baby girl gets two inches taller,” said the family’s attorney, Nima Ameri, “and then one day there are moving boxes that says, ‘Get out’ because there was a fraudulent mortgage scheme. ‘We want this property, we’re going to sell it at market value.’”
The home, which eventually fell into foreclosure, was sold at auction. It is now the property of Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.
Freddie Mac, as the corporation is more commonly known, said they’ll sell the house back to the Nisevics — but at full market price, which is about $160,000 more than what the couple originally paid in 1995.
“Obviously, they’re not happy about that. They’re not happy to buy back the home that should never have been taken from them,” Ameri said.
They are especially unhappy after already shelling out more than a hundred thousand dollars in legal fees.
“It’s not right, it’s not fair,” Nick Nisevic said.
Freddie Mac told CBS2 it wouldn’t be fair to sell the home back for anything less.
“This protects taxpayers by reducing our losses and also supports local property values, which is good for neighborhoods by reducing the risk of blight. What happened to the Nisevics should remind everyone about the devastating impact mortgage fraud can have on our families,” the company said in a statement.
Cabanillas said that while these refinancing consolidation offers may seem enticing homeowners have to be careful.
“People get these offers all the time. Some of them may be legitimate,” he said.
The reality is you must have an attorney review the offer before signing on the dotted line.
Freddie Mac said they encourage the Nisevics to make a competitive offer on the house. The family said they will continue to fight.