In early 2008, Cheryl Ann Montero, a California mortgage broker, held a series of free seminars in the clubhouse of the Lone Tree Golf Course in Contra Costa County, a suburban area near San Francisco. The attendees, homeowners facing foreclosure, were desperate for a rescue from their woes. Using a PowerPoint presentation, Montero delivered one.
She said her firm, Freedom Financial Solutions, could pressure lenders to stop foreclosures by challenging the legality of loan agreements, according to court records. Her fee: $2,500 upfront and a $2,000 monthly payment to cover legal costs. Promoting her services on the Web site Craigslist, Montero, a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman who looked like a soccer mom, became known as a foreclosure escape artist.