CHICAGO-- Our cameras were rolling Thursday as FBI agents raided the Logan Square office of United Construction of America, one of many businesses owned by Mark Diamond.
Federal officials will only say they were executing a court-authorized search warrant as part of an ongoing criminal matter, but sources say they were looking for evidence to build a case against Mark Diamond, stemming in part from a WGN investigation we first told you about back in January.
In our story, Dorothy Pruitt and Lillie Williams claimed Mark Diamond stole tens of thousands of dollars from them by claiming he could fix up their homes through a free government program.
But what he really did was sign them up for a reverse mortgage leaving their families in a bind.
You see reverse mortgages are loans against the homes that don’t have to be repaid until the owner moves or dies. And if any family members want to keep the home they have to pay the money back, plus interest. In Ms. Williams’ case that’s well over $100 thousand.
Even worse they say diamond never completed the work he promised and in Ms. Pruitt’s case, left her with an unfinished and unusable back porch, one that a housing inspector has deemed hazardous.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan: “He’s very focused on people on the west side of Chicago, African American women in particular.”
According to Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Ms. Pruitt and Ms. Williams are among more than a hundred homeowners… who have filed complaints about mark diamond with her office.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan: “Initially he was doing it with re-fis and now he’s doing it with reverse mortgages, he’s getting a very large payment of money, he’s stripping, he’s taking the money, he’s taking the equity out of someone’s home.”
Reverend Robin Hood, Community Activist: “The reverse mortgage don’t work in communities like ours, it drains our community and cause our children to lose their inheritance because you got people like mark diamond that is a snake and a scammer and that’s been allowed to do this for over 30 years.”
Community Activist Rev. Robin Hood is leading a crusade against Mark Diamond and what he calls his predatory practices. Madigan is also trying to put diamond out of business calling him a con man of unimagined magnitude.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan: “It’s not the first time, but I’m hoping it’s going to be the last time we have to go after him, mark diamond has to be stopped 14:35 he can’t continue to ruin people’s lives, take their homes, take all of their life saving and leave them with nothing while he still gets to run around free.”
Madigan referred the case to federal and state officials in hopes that criminal charges could be brought, which brings us back to yesterday and the raid on Diamond’s office by the FBI. Neither Diamond nor his lawyer responded to our request for a comment.
Meanwhile, Mark Diamond is still fighting to stay in business. He’ll be back in court on March 30th for the case involving the attorney general’s office.
The A.G. claims Diamond has started doing business under a new name and is continuing to defraud customers. It wants the court to temporarily shut him down while it works to permanently put him out of business.
We’ll be there and bring you the judge’s decision.