We are going to create an Archive of Complaints against Safeguard Properties (SGP) so that the Illinois (and the others waiting to file) Attorney General do(es) not have to get all knee deep in filing Discovery Requests. We are going to Publish a couple a day. I believe everyone remembers the last time we started this — yeah, TEN GRAND FOR THE HOMEOWNER.
Posted by laurapaas on 03/14/201x
We live in Columbus, OH. My boyfriend has found himself in a very similar situation. In fact, many of these stories are eerily similar to his. In 2007 Tom moved in with his friend Jim and in lieu of rent, Tom (my boyfriend is also a licensed contractor) would provide labor services for remodeling, not material, just labor. As materials were provided, Tom completed the work. Jim had/has some serious drinking and temper issues and there was an eventual falling out between them several months ago but moving out had not been discussed, they just avoided each other as much as possible.
Tom went out of town to do a job and was gone for almost 2 weeks. When he came back, the house was emptied of all of the furniture and only Tom’s personal belongings remained along with his tools, welding equipment, and various other items. We did some checking and discovered that the house was coming up for Sheriff sale on 10/30/09. Previous to this, there was no indication that there were problems with the mortgage. We contacted the Deputy listed on the Franklin County website and advised him that Tom is a tenant of the property, had no idea what was going on and needed to know what if any his rights were. The Deputy advised him that he would have 2 or 3 months to move out. When Tom told me what he said, I didn’t like the answer. I asked him to call again a few days later, and again, he was given the same information. OK, fine, he would have to move out soon, not a big deal. WRONG!
As scheduled, the property sold at auction back to the Mortgage holder. (Citi, big surprise I know) Within 4 days of the auction, SafeGuard, or it’s agents had already been into the property, changed the locks on the back door, garage and rifled through Tom’s belongings and made off with several hundred dollars worth of gift certificates to Mad River Mountain. They also winterized the house. At that point, he hung a sign in the mud room that was visible from outside the back door that stated he still lived there and wanted his belongings back. They had been to the property on 11/04 or 05. The police were called and a report was filed. The locks on the side door and front door were not changed and he could still enter the property with his keys. We called the number to SafeGuard and they claimed to have no job open at that address, this wasn’t a property they had interest in.
3 days later, Tom went back to the house (he had been staying at my house since there was no furniture at his place) and the police had to be called again because these contractors came back and absolutely cleaned the place out to the tune of 22K. A generator, 2 welding set ups, power tools, hand tools, you name it, they took it. His Harley was in the Garage and I’m pretty sure that left unchecked, they would have been back for that later. At that point, we removed the lock from the garage and replaced it with one of ours. We also changed the lock on the front door, and nailed the side door and back door closed. They had also padlocked the overhead garage door, we also removed those locks and disconnected the opener. Several more calls were made to SafeGuard and still they said this wasn’t a property they were managing. Finally out of frustration I told a CSR (term used loosely) that I was not getting off the phone until this was resolved, their stickers and sign in sheets were in the property and they need to figure out what was going on. Finally they admitted that this was a property they were dealing with. I advised the CSR (Maria, who was actually very professional) of the items missing out the house. She stated she could see that there was a generator at the property in the pictures they had from the contractor, and that she was going to forward this information to her supervisor and someone would be calling us back. I also advised her that Tom still lived in the property and that there was no running water and the property needed to be de-winterized. She said she would have put in an order for that, and someone would also be contacting us regarding that.
Fast forward a couple of days, still nothing from Safeguard and Tom went to the property to check mail and pick up a couple of things he needed and while driving down the street he notices two guys sitting in a truck in front of the house. He made a right and cut down the alley that runs behind the house and garage. He watched as these guys walked to the back of the house and garage. He drove back around the block and took a picture of the license plate on the vehicle and went back into the alley and watched these guys try to get into the house using the key that was in the lock box. Of course, since the door had been nailed shut, that didn’t work, so they left. Tom called me and told me what happened. I immediately called Maria at Safeguard and told her what happened. Tom also called the police and filed another police report. That evening and attorney named Erin called. She is apparently counsel for Citi and said the contractors were there to inspect for hazardous material in the back yard. A pile of leaves covered with a Tarp was the hazardous material???? My question to her was if they were there to do an EXTERIOR inspection, why were they trying to gain entry into the property? Her answer was that she didn’t know, but it was our word against theirs. I again brought up the fact that the house was winterized and that there was no running water. She said she would get in contact with SafeGuard and have that remedied. As for the equipment that was missing, she said that we would have to submit the property list to Safeguard. We carefully and honestly compiled a list of property, along with replacement cost, that was removed from the house and faxed that along with all 3 police reports to Safeguard on 12/10/09. I spoke with Octavia at SG and she confirmed they have received the fax.
About 2 weeks after I sent the report, I called Erin at the Attorneys office and asked where we were in getting this matter resolved, and of course, when we might be expecting SG out to de-winterize the house. She was not in the office, so the message would be given to her. A week passes, still no call from the Attorney and I call back to ask the same information again. Again, she’s not in the office and she would have to call me back. A few days after that, I got a call from Kevin at SG. I had a copy of the fax I sent to them and he proceeded to try and trick me. He said that Tom reported to the police that the men he saw trying to get into the house were black. I told him that Tom told the police no such thing and that I was looking at the police report that clearly stated the men were Caucasian. He told me that he was waiting to hear from a Columbus Police Detective Maynard before he could move forward. I asked him who the detective was and what his function was. He told me that the detective was going to be the one who determines whether or not there was a theft???? A couple of weeks passed and I called Kevin back, I asked him if he had heard back from the detective, he stated that he hadn’t. I asked him if he could please place a call and see if he can get any more information and he all of a sudden got very defensive with me. I at that point asked him to do his job because we were at the point of hiring an attorney, and the attorney had advised us that we would have to wait until the detective closed his investigation before going forward with any kind of legal action against SG and or their contractors. I also asked to speak with Kevin’s supervisor, he claimed she wasn’t in the office but he would have her call me. I know that you’ll be surprised to know that she never did call me back. I waited a few days and called her and she played the “we can only talk to the mortgagee” card. I advised her we had no idea where he was or how to get a hold of him. She told me that she could only talk to Tom at that point. I explained to her that I was authorized by him to speak on this matter, SG and the attorney had been speaking to me exclusively per Tom’s request. She wouldn’t discuss it with me period. I made several calls to Detective Maynard and finally I received a call back. He told me that he was getting ready to wrap up his investigation and we have no proof that the guys that were trying to get in did anything wrong and that criminally there was nothing we could do.
A couple of weeks later, I received a call from a Lydia Walker of Motorists Insurance Company regarding a claim filed 11/11/09. At first, I had no idea what she was talking about as her message was very vague. I called her back and left her a message that I was returning her call, but she never did call me back. A few days later, Tom was in contact with SG again regarding the no water situation. He found out that the claim had moved on to the insurance adjuster and that’s how we found out who Lydia was. I place another call to Lydia and again left her a voice mail. Tom was finally able to catch her at her office and she requested him to make a recorded statement over the phone regarding the claim. Tom declined to make the statement at that moment because he didn’t have the fax in his possession with the list of equipment that was taken. He is calling her tomorrow to do the statement.
In the mean time, we attended a legal clinic and spoke with an attorney who states we very much have a case against SG based on them entering a property that was not yet in their possession. In fact, when I spoke with the Attorney the first time, she told me that the sale hadn’t been confirmed yet and we were still weeks away from confirmation. If there has been no confirmation of sale, why would they enter property? She stated that because the bank is the owner. Well, if there is no confirmation of sale, that’s not exactly true.
We have a long road in front of us, but on the road we will remain. After the insurance company denies the claim, or makes some ridiculous low-ball offer to settle, we will retain an attorney and probably own that house when it’s all said and done.
If anyone has started a class action suit, we would consider filing, these guys need to be stopped.