Posted: May 1, 2008 1:53 PM by James Jarman
Updated: May 1, 2008 1:53 PM
News First Investigates has learned state regulators are looking into complaints filed against a Colorado Springs mortgage broker.
The complaints come from inside and outside the home loan industry and allege mortgage fraud. The Colorado Attorney General's Office and the State Division of Real Estate tell us they're looking into several complaints filed against April Bigler.
Mortgage Loan Underwriter Laurie Butler says even she filed a complaint against Bigler. She says through the state foreclosure hotline and local realtors different people in Fremont County are contacting her every week with complaints and questionable mortgage documents from Bigler.
"It's the same story over and over again. they talk on the phone never face to face," said Butler, who works for Canon National Bank in Canon City, "there's never been any disclosures given to them, as far as the good faith or truth in lending" which are required by law.
She listed several examples of questionable mortgage broker behavior, including a woman who's now facing foreclosure after getting a loan through Bigler. "This lady here makes $900 a month. She (bigler) qualified her (home buyer) for a $125,000 loan, which her payments are around $900 a month... you can't qualify for that," said Butler.
But she says somehow Bigler got that lady the loan, which county records show was then used to buy a home from the Bigler. Bigler bought the home in May 2006 for $93,000, and a month later, sold it to that lady for $125,000.
"It makes me sick to my stomach because some of these people legitimately need to be homeowners, but some of them aren't ready and putting them into a house when they're not ready, or putting them into a house they can't afford is setting setting somebody up for failure," said Butler.
Another alleged victim of Bigler's, Lori and Ben Leonard, are also facing foreclosure. "She wouldn't answer phone calls, she'd put you on hold indefinitely," Lori told News First.
The Canon City couple said they wanted to refinance out of their mortgage before their payments jumped to $1,400 a month. They claim Bigler told them no problem, but now they have 2 adjustable rate loans that total around $1,400 a month in payments.
"I think she (Bigler) feels she's above the law or she doesn't think there's going to be any repercussions whatsoever," said Ben Leonard. He says he's been working up to 80 hours a week to earn enough money to keep his family's home.
News First Investigates has tried repeatedly to get a hold of Bigler for a response.
At this point, we've agreed not to name the company where she works because there are no other complaints we could find against other brokers there.
Bigler's boss told us she's been on vacation:
James Jarman, News First Investigates: "She has the ability to call in and check and check her voicemail?"
Bigler's Employer: "Yes, she does."
James Jarman, News First Investigates: "Oh, ok. Because I left a message, a couple of messages on there. Could I get her cell number and try her?"
Bigler's Employer: "No, I can't give that out that's her private cell, that's not her company cell."
Her Employer also says he's "shocked" to hear about the complaints.
News First Investigates could not find a criminal record for any financial crimes for Bigler. She's never faced any disciplinary action from industry regulators.
"It kind of tears my heart out because she's a nice gal. She's kind of one of those, that you know what i don't think she'd hurt a fly," said Bigler's Employer.
But those who say they're Bigler's victims disagree, and so does Butler and other industry insiders we've talked to who say all the loan documents filled out by Bigler should be closely examined.
Her boss estimates she's processed 320 loans over the past 2 years.
Regulation of Colorado mortgage brokers only started last year.