Homeowner says she was duped by woman claiming to help her

Posted at 12:16 AM, Nov 21, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-21 22:09:55-05

A woman who was supposed to be helping a family keep their home from going into foreclosure found a way to gain their trust and trick them at the same time.

Pamela Hudson decided to sell her deceased mother's rings to save her home from foreclosure.

Hudson handed over 2,600 dollars to Lori Macakanja, a housing counselor.

Macakanja was understanding even as she promised to use the cash for what's called a loan modification.

It was supposed to help make Pamela`s mortgage payments more affordable.

But that's not what happened.

NewsChannel 3 has learned she used the cash from the Hudson family to feed her gambling habit and to pay her own mortgage.

We've also learned she didn't just steal money from the Hudsons.  According to the FBI, she conned 136 families out of 300,000 dollars! 

Hudson has multiple sclerosis.

She was trying to find financial help when she went to "Homefront," the nonprofit agency where Mackanja was supposed to be assisting struggling homeowners.

Kelly Roberts is a staff attorney with the legal aid society in Norfolk.

She says several folks facing foreclosure right here Hampton Roads have fallen victim to scam artists.

Experts suggest dealing with your lender directly.

You can also check the Department of Housing and Urban Development's website for a list of legit housing counselors.

It’s good advice that came too late for Pamela.

Lori Macakanja pleaded guilty to the crimes.

She's now serving a 72-month jail sentence.

She's also under court order to pay more than $290, 000 dollars in restitution to homeowners.