Top tips for avoiding foreclosure

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Nina Pineda has 7 on Your Side. (WABC)

There's a warning for homeowners looking to modify their mortgage, be careful who you trust to negotiate with your lender.

A Middlesex County woman learned the hard way, she lost her home and the lawyer who claimed he would keep her in it went to jail.

First, a predatory lender signed her up for a loan she could never afford.

Then, drowning in debt and desperate to save her home, she hired a lawyer giving him thousands turned into a costly mistake.

"My life, it's ruined." Lenora Squier never thought she would be on the brink of homelessness. "I had 2 hours to leave my home," says the former homeowner. "2 hours to pack up my son and leave. And I lost my house."

That's after her lender foreclosed on the victorian-style home. Her former home was sold at auction and she and her son were evicted.

"He asks me everyday, 'Mommy when can we go back to South Plainfield?'"

But there's no going back. And Lenora says it's mostly the fault of her former lawyer, Louis Capazzi. 4 years ago Lenora says she hired Capazzi, sending him a fee of $9,000 and cashier's checks totaling more than $51,000. Lenora says all that bought was some bad advice.

"He told me in 2010 to stop paying my mortgage," says Lenora.

As a result eviction and foreclosure notices showed up. Lenora says she sent them to Capazzi.

"And he would say, 'Don't worry. We got this you're going to win your house outright,'" says Lenora.

What Lenora didn't realize was the lawyer she was trusting to help her stay in her Middlesex County home was being investigated by the Bergen County District Attorneys Office.

The head of the county's White Collar Crime Unit called Louis Capazzi a danger to society. Currently, he's facing multiple counts of theft by deception. At his arraignment this month, a not guilty plea was entered.

The big takeaway here, if you're able, never stop paying your mortgage altogether. Holding back payments may put you in line for foreclosure. Don't ignore foreclosure notices. And take those seriously. And remember, you don't have to pay for a counseling. HUD offers many free foreclosure avoidance counselors in every state.

For more information on HUD counseling please visit: http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/fc/

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