Oceanside Law Firm Subject Of FBI Investigation

I-Team Talks To Firm's CEO About Customer Allegations

A home loan re-modification company operating in Oceanside, but working across the country, is the target of customer complaints and a Federal Bureau of Investigation raid.

First American Law Center in Oceanside offers a lower mortgage payment by promising to modify customer's home loans.

The 10News I-Team ran surveillance at the Oceanside office to see who was coming in and out, cameras rolled when the FBI went in and some First American Law Center customers showed up to find out what was going on.

"I hired a company thinking they would be able to assist me, and they're not here, obviously," First American Law Center customer Tracey Astorga said. "I've been trying to get in contact with them for six months. Nobody calls me back, so I personally drove here."

In Minnesota, the Petroviacs wanted to lower their interest rate, and after seeing an ad on TV they called First American Law Center.

"We went through like four different people before we got to our case manager, which took a long time," the family said.

The I-Team found other unhappy customers on dozens of websites who said that they paid First American thousands of dollars to modify their home loan.

"Have you gotten anything so far?" I-Team reported Mitch Blacher asked.

"Nothing," Astorga said.

The California Attorney General's website warned consumers with this message: "The loan modification industry is filled with con artists and swindlers."

The I-Team has found some of them before. Many didn't want to talk to 10News, but that's where the story takes a turn.

Dean Chandler, the CEO of First American Law Center agreed to an interview with 10News.

"There have been some unscrupulous individuals, including lawyers, that have taken money and not done anything for that money," Chandler told 10News.

"Are you one of them?" Blacher asked

"We are not one of them," said Chandler.

Chandler says 50 to 60 percent of his clients get their homes loans re-modified.

"Is that a good success rate?" asked Blacher

"Nationally, it’s less than 10," Chandler said.

"How are you able to be so high then?" Blacher asked.

"Because we work our files," Chandler responded.

First American Law Center offers a money-back guarantee. Chandler claims to have refunded more than $900,000 to customers who didn't get their home loans re-modified.

But the I-Team asked questions about his business, like why First American isn’t registered with the state as required by law.

"You don't rip people off?" asked Blacher

"Absolutely not," Chandler said

"You don't take their money and run?" Blacher asked.

"No way," said Chandler. "Any time that anybody wants to see the results we've obtained for our clients I welcome them to come up here and we'll open our books wide open for them."

The FBI is taking a look and didn’t ask permission. They boxed up every file.

The I-Team also checked into the associates working at the corporate office in Oceanside. According to the company's website, Louis Bruno is an attorney and forensic loan auditor.

According to the State Bar, Bruno's law license was suspended in 2009, although he has since been reinstated.

The federal government offers legitimate help for people looking to re-modify their home loans. Visit www.makinghomeaffordable.gov.