WSVN — When you sell a house or condo, it’s a great feeling to get that money, but what would you say if the closing agent sent the money to a wrong account and you didn’t get a dime for your home? After you finished screaming, it would be time to call Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

In her day job, Heidi Payne juggles life as a lawyer. In her spare time, she is a certified Hula-Hoop instructor.

Heidi Payne: "It’s actually a much better exercise than anyone realizes because you can exercise your whole body."

She is great with a Hula-Hoop, but her head was left spinning after she recently sold a house she owned.

Heidi Payne: "My buyer has been living in the house in Hollywood for approximately two years."

Heidi sold the property to a tenant who had been renting it, he picked a lawyer to do the closing.

Heidi Payne: "So I did not locate him or hire him, but I did use him."

That lawyer did the title work for the sale, and was supposed to wire the $114,000 for the house to Heidi’s bank account. She waited and waited.

Heidi Payne: "My buyer tells me the money was wired, I said ‘No it’s not showing in my bank.’"

The buyer’s attorney told Heidi he got an email from her telling him to wire the $114,000 to her new bank account under the name of Steven Pasternak Inc., a company not registered with the state. Heidi says the request to the lawyer came from a phony email address and the sentences were filled with grammatical errors such as, "I will have the agent come by you as I appreciate the services you render."

Heidi Payne: "Eight to nine mistakes, grammar and spelling and just sounded, it didn’t sound like me, so he really should have known based on that alone, that this wasn’t me."

Heidi told the lawyer it was a scam, how someone knew the attorney had done the closing that day baffles her but, she says what’s clear, she is out $114,000 and wants the lawyer who wired the money to the crook to pay her.

Heidi Payne: "But he said he didn’t have the money, he was not giving me anything."

Heidi called the police, the FBI, the bank that got the money and the insurance company that backs the attorney who did the closing, but so far, no money for her.

Heidi Payne: "It’s not pocket change, it’s a lot of money so now my house is gone. Belongs to another and I don’t have the proceeds. My daughter is about to start college, this is what I need this money for."

Well Howard, a crime like this is every home sellers nightmare, so legally, who has to pay Heidi the $114,000?

Howard Finkelstein: "It’s simple, the closing agent is responsible for dispersing the funds. And to close a deal, the banks will require that the agent has insurance. So if they make a mistake or are the victims of a scam, either their insurance company or the agent has to replace the money."

The bank where the money was wrongly sent froze the account, but by then, the crook had taken $14,000 out. The remaining $100,000 was sent to Heidi. The bank told us they had opened an investigation and were working with police. A spokesperson for Miami Police they were investigating the case. The attorney who did the closing, Robert Abramson, told us he was going to let his insurance company handle this to get Heidi the money she was owed.

Heidi Payne: "I can’t really go into detail."

Heidi apparently had to sign a confidentiality agreement because she can’t discuss if she got her the other $14,000 back but the smile on her face lets us know what happened.

Heidi Payne: "And I want to thank Help Me Howard for being there every step of the way, and I appreciate it, like you don’t even know."

That’s nice Heidi, we all appreciate it. So far no clue who was behind the scam, but it was a local bank account, so it shouldn’t be hard for the bank and police to track down the person that opened the account and withdrew the money. We will let you know if they catch them.

Feel like you have mortgaged your future battling a problem? Need help to close on a solution? Contact us. You don’t wanna see us do Hula-Hoop but hopefully we can get things spinning in the right direction. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7news.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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