State authorities order stop on Omaha foreclosure scam

The state of Nebraska has issued a cease and desist order for a man pitching reverse mortgages in Omaha without a license.
Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 10:35 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A state order to cease and desist shows why the Larsens carried on with their complaint about a reverse mortgage pitchman who showed up in their driveway uninvited.

“He scared me,” said 87-year-old Gayle Larsen. “I mean, I was really worried about what he told me. I knew it couldn’t be true, but I was really worried.

Jeff Rothlisberger claimed Gayle had a mortgage 90 days past due and handed her a note stating her house was in pre-foreclosure, then pitched a reverse mortgage.

Gayle says her house has been paid off for about 30 years and grew suspicious of the reverse mortgage sales pitch because she never received any official notice in the mail that she faced foreclosure.

A call to a Douglas County Register of Deeds supervisor confirmed the bogus scare.

Rothlisberger told state investigations that his solicitation was a test of the reverse mortgage market. A claim that tested the tempers of Gayle’s children.

“To take advantage of people who you think are in financial distress and going after the elderly, what worse can you do?” said Lee Larsen, Gayle’s son.

The Nebraska State Department of Banking and Finance denied Rothlisberger a loan originator’s license and ordered him to cease and desist from pitching reverse mortgages.

“They interviewed both myself and my mom and they watched (6 News’ previous interview) and asked questions about what we had shared,” said Lauri Cimino, Gayle’s daughter.

All that led the state to find that Rothlisberger conducted unlicensed activity and misrepresented or concealed material facts to frightening homeowners like Gayle in order to get a loan that hse never needed.

“He was going around and scaring other people, so I was glad that we did this,” Gayle said.

In July, Rothlisberger agreed to a recorded phone interview.

“I apologize if I scared somebody,” he said. “I stopped doing it because it’s not worth it.”

After the state sanctions, Rothlisberger sent 6 News a message that the data he purchased from an out-of-state record peddler showing five senior citizens three months past due on mortgages was, in fact, wrong.

He says many elderly will lose their homes and he was trying to help with information about reverse mortgages. Rothlisberger claims he didn’t finish a lender’s license application because it would have opened him up to criticism dealing with older people like Gayle.

“Don’t pull in my driveway ever again and tell me my house is in foreclosure,” Gayle said.

Rothlisberger also says he was not originating any loans and that the National Mortgage Licensing Service hasn’t given him any negative marks on its database.