Two Ellicott City widows have been saved from eviction from their homes by a court order sought by the county's Office of Consumer Affairs.
Stephen D. Hannan, administrator of the county office, said the order granted by District Court Judge Alice Clark on May 11 should protect the women, both in their 60s, from mortgage firms that he said are violating county laws against unfair and deceptive trade practices.
Hannan urged anyone who suspects they may be the victim of predatory lending practices in the county to contact his office at 410-313-6420.
Hannan said both women were behind in their mortgage payments after a spouse's death when they responded to ads offering to help them avoid foreclosure, improve their credit and remain in the houses, which are worth from $375,000 to $400,000.
The county alleged that the consumers were misled into deeding title to their homes over to companies based in Owings Mills. The companies paid about $122,000 each to satisfy the mortgages, then leased the homes back to the residents for $2,600 a month -- rent the women could not afford.
When they fell behind in payments, the firms sought evictions in District Court.
The restraining order was obtained against Bay Capital Corp.; Robert Pukall; Stewart D. Sachs; Heavy Weight Title Inc.; and two limited-liability corporations, 8966 Chapel LLC and 3562 Lowlen, LLC.
The phone for Heavy Weight Title in Owings Mills was disconnected yesterday, but Sachs said he knew nothing of the case, had not been served the legal papers and added that his firm neither advertises or lends money directly to consumers. He said he has done business in the past with the operator of Heavy Weight Title.