A local Vietnam veteran reached out to 17 News after he learned his home will go up for auction October 1st.
And, it's not just any home. Richard McCombs is a double amputee, having lost both of his legs in the war. His home was custom built with a V.A. loan so he could get around in his wheelchair.
And, as he's been trying to save his home himself, 17 News learned he was likely scammed in the process.
McCombs' hard times started in 2009 when he lost his wife. And, now, he says he's losing his memory too. It appears someone took advantage of his pain and desperation to save what he has left, his house, and scammed him out of thousands of dollars.
"Ah man, I tell you," said McCombs shaking his head, "I don't know how I've gotten into this mess, but I sure have."
McCombs shares that he owes over $225,000 on his home.
"It makes my heart go to my feet, if I had feet. But, it really hurts me," said McCombs.
In 1967, McCombs was serving in Chu Lai province. That year he stepped on a land mine and lost both legs. He returned to Bakersfield needing a home with wheelchair accessibility.
"The V.A. helped me. They gave me a grant to build this house, and I had it built. And, that was in 1971, and I've lived here ever since," said McCombs.
McCombs celebrated his wedding day at his custom home and raised three children there. His wife was his caretaker and support. He lost that all when she died in 2009.
"It hurt me bad. It really set me back, really did. I still miss her," said McCombs.
Living on veterans benefits and Social Security, McCombs had to borrow money against his home to cover medical bills and other needs. After falling over $25,000 behind in mortgage payments, he says he reached out to a woman he thought was with his bank to save his home, paying her $8,000.
"She was supposed to save my house, but she did nothing," said McCombs.
We researched the phone number for the business McCombs says he called to arrange the payments. It came up as "Legal Action in Bakersfield." It's address is 426 North Chester Avenue. When 17 News went to that spot, there was only a 410 and 500 North Chester Avenue. 426 North Chester Avenue does not exist.
"Oh, absolutely, total scam," said Glenn Porter, owner of Remaxx Golden Empire, of McCombs' transaction. "There's no requirement for any fees at all for a home modification."
Porter says someone likely preyed on McCombs' desperation and mental state, promised to save his home, and walked away with thousands.
"He's thinking if I have to invest what I have to keep my home, I'm going to do that," said Porter, "And, it sounds reasonable to people like that, especially ones that are hurting."
Porter says McCombs' home was listed as a foreclosure in May 2012 and is listed on Realtytrac for auction. He's working with McCombs and his bank now to try and get McCombs' mortgage modified.
The Veterans Center contacted McCombs after 17 News alerted them of his situation. They are seeing if there are other V.A. benefits he might qualify for.
"This gentleman is a combat veteran, so now that we know about him he won't be forgotten," said Wendy Porter, Executive Director of the Wounded Heroes Fund.
But, time is running out to save McCombs' only home during his life without legs, where he can look all around and trigger memories, memories that without the home, will likely slip away even faster.
"It breaks my heart a lot, said Glenn Porter. "We've got a wall in Washington D.C. that shows the sacrifice. But, the sacrifices have continued on way past that. The sacrifices include people like Mr. McCombs who've lost their legs. He's lived with that for over 50 years."
"It's just bad, bad." said McCombs of his situation. "It really is. I never thought I'd see it like that."
17 News did leave several messages with the number McCombs called to arrange the payments to modify his loan. Those calls have not been returned.
Glenn Porter says he should know soon if the bank will agree to take the home out of foreclosure and off the auction block. In the meantime, he warns, do not pay for loan modifications. They are free. Just check with your realtor.
17 News will keep you updated on this story.