CHICAGO — Mark Diamond has been under investigation off and on for mortgage fraud for nearly two decades.
He is accused of making more than 10 million dollars in a reverse mortgage and home repair scheme that targeted the elderly.
Now, attorneys at Northwestern are representing more than 40 victims in a new case against him, co-conspirators, and lending companies they say carried out his dirty work.
Reverend Robin Hood said Diamon swindled his late aunt, Lilly Williams.
“When I first found out this was happening my aunt said she was a victim and got foreclosed on,” he said. “She knew Mark Diamond.”
Diamond, is accused of manipulating elderly African American home owners on Chicago’s West Side into a reverse mortgage scheme, conning more than 120 victims to sign over equity in their homes telling them it was a city sponsored home repair program.
“She felt a sense of pride … and things started to go wrong,” Hood said. “He wasn’t showing up. Come to find out he took hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Juliet Sorensen is with the Blume Legal Clinic and filed a civil complaint in Cook County Circuit Court seeking a declaratory judgment voiding all the victims’ mortgages because, they argue, they were procured on the basis of fraud.
“We were contacted for our assistance because the victims are very vulnerable,” she said. “They are elderly. Because of this fraud, they are destitute.”
Also named in the suit are a half a dozen lenders involved.
“They issued the loan checks,” Sorensen said. “In many instances, issued them directly to Mark Diamond himself. And in that sense they were complicit.”
“To see this lawsuit coming to shine five years later, it’s just very special to us,” Hood said.
Hood, who is now the director of the Illinois Anti-Foreclosure Coalition, has worked to bring his aunt’s case, and many others in the North Lawndale community to light.
He promised her he would never give up.
“On her death bed she told me keep fighting this for other people,” he said. “There is hope if you keep fighting. My auntie Lilly was a fighter.”
Sorensen said Diamond is expected to enter a plea deal and not go to trial in his federal case.
Diamond has been out on bond.
WGN News attempted to reach Diamond’s attorney for comment but he did not return calls.
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