(WSVN) - A South Florida company is being sued by the state, accused of “swindling” homeowners across the country and targeting seniors. Karen Hensel has tonight’s 7 Investigates.
John Browning Jr., homeowner: “There’s a lot of memories here. Yes, there’s a lot of memories here.”
This has been home for John Browning Jr. for decades. It was a gift from one of his sons, who was a former defensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs.
John Browning Jr.: “My oldest son bought the house back in 1996. He bought this house with money that he played football and made.”
He gave it to his dad, who has worked hard his whole life — detailing cars.
Now at age 76, John is the full-time caregiver for his disabled grandson.
John Browning Jr.: “Michael is mentally challenged, and he’s got cerebral palsy.”
Both his grandson and a second son live with him.
While he was not looking to sell his home, John was enticed when he got a call from MV Realty.
John Browning Jr.: “In fact, he called me about four times before I accepted it.”
The agreement: John got $1,465 cash in exchange for the company getting exclusive rights to sell his home sometime in the next 40 years.
John Browning Jr.: “I’m in a hard spot. I needed cash. That’s money you ain’t got to pay back, you know.”
But John did not know what he was really getting into — which was MV Realty putting a lien on his home. The agreement meant he could not sell, transfer or refinance it for the next 40 years without using the company.
John Browning Jr.: “I was getting ready to go through cataract surgery, so I couldn’t read a whole bunch of that stuff that he gave me.”
Signing the 40-year deal for quick cash was only the beginning of his home heartache. He was in debt, and because of the lien from MV Realty, he could not refinance his home, so he took out a large loan from a different company.
Now, faced with no way to pay it back, his only option is to sell his home.
John Browning Jr.: “I was doing the best I could. Just made a lot of bad choices, I guess. They got me, they doped me.”
John is not alone.
The Florida Attorney General’s Office has more than 200 complaints about MV Realty PBC and is suing the company, accusing it of operating “…a complex and deceptive scheme … with the goal of swindling consumers…”
The suit says homeowners were offered between $300 and $5,000 cash as a “loan alternative,” “in exchange” for them signing “misleading and confusing” contracts.
John Browning Jr.: “They done trapped me into a whole bunch of stuff here that I didn’t even realize I was in, so that’s when I realized I was in trouble.”
John turned to a real estate broker for help to get out of the deal.
Margend Palacios, real estate broker: “He had to pay back, to be released, $13,965 penalty in exchange for a loan of $1,460. At the end of the day, they don’t deserve that money. It’s swindling, it was dishonest, it was something that has put this family in a situation where they didn’t need to be.”
John Browning Jr.: “I just feel real bad about the whole situation, you know, since I’m the one who got put into this for bad decisions that I made.”
On two days we stopped by the MV Realty office in Boca Raton, it was empty. We reached out to the company and its attorney and are still waiting to hear back.
In court filings, MV Realty denies wrongdoing and says what they have been doing is legal.
And, while a judge denied their attempt to dismiss Florida’s lawsuit, in September, MV Realty filed for bankruptcy protection.
Karen Hensel, 7News.
Consumers with complaints about MV Realty can contact the Florida Attorney General’s Office:
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