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A Piece of the Dream

November 05, 1989

I have been thinking about writing to The Times about this matter for a while to see if there are any other veterans out there who have been defrauded out of their homes by these common thieves who call themselves real estate investors by saving us poor GIs who have either bitten off more than they could chew or fallen on hard times.

My wife and I bought a small piece of the American dream in 1981 on the GI bill even though we were stretched beyond belief and really did not fully qualify for this home.

We knew we had to get into a home of our own or we may never be able to for quite some time. We struggled for almost two years, then hit some tough times. We robbed Peter to pay Paul. We tried everything possible to make it work but only succeeded in digging ourselves in deeper.

We tried to sell the home but it was not a sellers market in 1983. We could not refinance it because we were never able to get current on our payments.

In desperation, I answered an advertisement for a man who "bought homes even if you were behind in payments." The guy seemed on the level. He agreed to keep the payments up and either rent the house or fix it up more and sell it. The only bad thing he said was that we could not use our GI bill again until the house was paid off in full. That was the last thing on my mind during this very stressful period of my life.

You guessed what happened. He never had any intention of keeping the payments current or paying the delinquent payments on this loan. He rented it out for about a year and collected the rent free and clear. The house went into a foreclosure sale and guess who is stuck? The VA has advised me that we owe them $27,500 at this time.

The only thing that makes me feel any better about this whole thing is that I have found out that this man is now in federal prison somewhere along with some other corporate officers of his firm, but I ask you--who is paying the greater debt in this case?

If we are held fully responsible for this debt to the VA, we will have to pay this for years to come. We may never be able to buy another house as long as we live. Our credit is destroyed. Our marriage has survived but is scarred for life. Our future earnings are, no doubt, to be tapped for years to come.

What recourse do we and the hundreds of other vets that these people defraud have?



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