CFA: Sunrise Financial (aired 4/28/04)

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In the past we have warned you about the practices of a couple of Mortgage Brokers and Bankers. Many residents don't realize these individuals are totally unregulated in Colorado.

Tonight Betty Sexton talks to customers of one banker who say they were misled.

Some customers of Sunrise Financial tell me they feel helpless and have nowhere to turn. The say the company's President and CEO - not only lies to them but refuses to return their original documents. It has left them angry and looking for answers.

It made my credit rating go from an A rating to a C rating. I am very, very angry and upset that he still has my stuff and that he won't release it to me.

I am really suspicious of what he is doing. I have no idea what he does for a living.

Robert Alvarez is in the process of buying this foreclosed property in Security. He says he wasted seven weeks working with this man - Cel Lucero, President and CEO of Sunrise Financial.

I am not approved as I have been told I don't have a closing date and the loan terms are totally different than what I was quoted.

Robert says he had no choice but to quickly find another lender - a move that hurt his wallet. But Robert's really worried about his personal financial papers. He wants them back and so does Jami Zeornes.

She believes her paperwork's being held hostage. "Said that if I wanted my paperwork, original copies back I would have to pay him $165. Now he claims the $165 is for the credit report." A general credit report runs around $25.

Tonya Gilpin says Lucero's broken promises landed her and her daughter in a motel off of Nevada Avenue. On top of that, Tonya says she recommended friends to Lucero only to learn he breached her trust and possibly a Federal Law.

I feel like I was violated because he disclosed personal information about me to other people, built my hopes up just to let them fall.

Harriet Hunt says Lucero never delivered on a refinance job for her missing a total of 5 closing dates in March. She says what really hurt; she followed Lucero's advice - sinking her credit score. He advised us not to make any payments at all because it would all be taken care of. We made repeated attempts to talk to Lucero - who denies any wrongdoing.

We tried visiting him at his office, located in the garage of his mother's house but so far, he has refused to address specific concerns.

A former employee who worked for Lucero close to a month says he repeatedly lied to customers and was verbally abusive. That employee never saw one loan close. He would tell people that they would have a closing date and a time but there really wouldn't be one - so to me - that is lying. I don't know if that is considered criminal, but when you consider these peoples' lives have totally been turned upside down.

A check of court records shows Lucero led guilty to theft and right now is on a deferred sentence. Plus, there is a warrant for his arrest out of Denver. He has been sued numerous times and led guilty to writing a bad check as well as harassment.

Gary Broaddus, the head of the Colorado Association of Mortgage Brokers says he is not surprised by the allegations against Lucero. He says Colorado, Wyoming, and Alaska are the only states where Mortgage Brokers and Bankers are unregulated and unlicensed.

He says in other states refusing to return original documents, disclosing confidential information and overcharging for credit reports wouldn't be allowed. There have been other states that have taken Mortgage companies to court. We do have some felons working on Colorado and they are perfectly legal.

Lucero uses the BBB emblem on his business card but we are told he is not a member and has an unsatisfactory record for not answering customer complains.

Before you do business with any Mortgage Company, check them out and get a couple of estimates in writing, comparing charges. The only out of pocket costs you should pay for are:

Credit Report around $30
Appraisal which typically runs $200 to $300

Remember, a simple transaction should take no longer than 3 weeks from beginning to end. Be sure to ask for a copy of your HUD one closing station - beforehand.

Federal Law requires companies to let you see the numbers 24 hours before closing but only if you ask for it.

Don't ever give original documents to a lender - it is your job to safeguard them.

Don't ever stop making payments, take care of your obligations till you are actually signing papers at the closing.