For months, Houston-area homeowners on the verge of foreclosure flocked to a southwest side office building.
"I was several months behind," said Jose Valladares. "I believe three or four months behind."
Like hundreds of other Spanish speaking homeowners, Valladares thought a business called Homeowners Legal Assistance could stop his foreclosure.
"They were going to work on my loan modification, they were going to get that approved and I was going to save my home and start making payments on my home," said Valladares.
Homeowners Legal Assistance, also known as Delgado and Associates, was featured on infomercials on Spanish television. The advertisements featured Antonio Hernandez, a veteran Houston news anchor, as well as a money back guarantee.
"It looked very credible on the surface and it wasn't," said attorney J.C.Castillo.
Valladares paid the business $3,000.
In April, Valladares received a letter from his mortgage company stating his loan modification would be approved pending some needed documentation. Then weeks later, he received another letter. In that letter, the mortgage company stated it never received the needed paperwork and his loan modification was denied. Valladares, his wife and two children were told to get out.
"It's one of the worst things that's ever happened to me, let's put it that way," said Valladares. "I never saw it coming."
When Valladares and other unhappy customers returned to the southwest side office building, the business was gone.
"When all these complaints started coming in from everywhere, that's when they decided boom, it disappeared," said Castillo.
If losing their money and or their homes wasn't enough, some customers had bankruptcy filings they say they knew nothing about. Those filings were apparently done to stop their foreclosures.
"That's obviously fraud on the bankruptcy court and fraud on the homeowners when that was being done," said Castillo.
Court documents state one of the business' employees filed numerous bankruptcy cases for customers and in the process violated several provisions of the bankruptcy code.
"Everything fell apart and everybody started pointing fingers at each other," said Castillo.
Business owner Arnold Gonzales and hundreds of thousands of dollars are nowhere to be found, according to court testimony. The bankruptcy court tried six times to serve Gonzales with a subpoena to testify.
"We know that Arnold Gonzales disappeared and nobody seems to know where he's at," said Castillo.
Former television news anchor Antonio Hernandez told FOX 26 Investigates Gonzales owes him money for appearing in the commercials. He also accuses the business of ruining his reputation and plans to sue.
Castillo estimates a thousand or more homeowners may have been ripped off by the business.
"They even stated to me if you lose your home, you'll be getting your money back," said Valladares. But that did not happen.
"I lost my home, lost all the money I put in my house and lost the money I gave to them," said Valladares.
A criminal investigation is now underway.