More on the tax lien/foreclosure industry

In a follow-up to its three-part series on the tax-lien/foreclosure machine in Washington, D.C., the Washington Post has just published this investigative report on Aeon Financial, a secretive organization that bought up tax liens in D.C. (and elsewhere) and is making millions off of fees and foreclosures. Here's an excerpt:

The firm that threatened to foreclose on hundreds of struggling D.C. homeowners is a mystery: It lists no owners, no local office, no Web site. Aeon Financial is incorporated in Delaware, operates from mail-drop boxes in Chicago and is represented by a law firm with an address at a 7,200-square-foot estate on a mountainside near Vail, Colo. Yet no other tax lien purchaser in the District has been more aggressive in recent years, buying the liens placed on properties when owners fell behind on their taxes, then charging families thousands in fees to save their homes from foreclosure. Aeon has been accused by the city’s attorney general of predatory and unlawful practices and has been harshly criticized by local judges for overbilling. All along, the firm has remained shrouded in corporate secrecy as it pushed to foreclose on more than 700 houses in every ward of the District. … Aeon’s story underscores how an obscure tax lien company — backed by large banks and savvy lawyers — can move from city to city with little government scrutiny, taking in millions from distressed homeowners. The firm came into the District eight years ago with hardball tactics, sending families threatening letters and demanding $5,000 or more in legal fees and other costs, often more than three times the tax debt. At the same time, the company was moving across the country, buying up liens in Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky and Iowa.

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