Was the LAT snookered?

ShaRon Lewis might have pulled a fast one. She was used in an anecdotal quote for the Times' March 10 story about folks being swept up by problems in the subprime market. Lewis talked about the home she bought in June 2005. Here's the opening of the piece:

ShaRon Lewis is facing a 50% hike in the payment on her adjustable-rate mortgage next month. This week, she discovered she can't qualify for a new loan with payments that she could afford. And although she's willing to sell the West Hills home she's owned for two years, she has been told it won't fetch what she paid for it. "I have to laugh to keep from bawling," the 30-something Lewis said. Her situation is becoming increasingly common across the country amid the implosion of the business of sub-prime mortgages — loans for people with less-than-perfect credit or no credit histories.

Thing is, there's a blog post making the rounds that suggests ShaRon Lewis isn't exactly telling the whole story. OCRenter did some research and found that she bought three homes in June 2005. But wait, there's more:

Then we find out Sharon sold two of the homes to a guy named Darryl in the summer of 2006. Somehow Darryl then added Sharon back on to the title on one of the homes. Now we find out Sharon and Darryl are actually a married couple. So basically, Sharon sold her homes to her husband at a profit, a profit they both kept. We now also know the transactions from seller/wife Sharon to buyer/husband Darryl were non-MLS FSBO sales. And... Sharon is a Realtor® and she was the Realtor® of record on the fraudulent sales.

OK, so there's been a ton of Web reaction to the LAT story, none of it flattering. Now if indeed the paper has been snookered, most all reporters could feel the pain. You're on deadline, your editor has told you to come up with "real people" to illustrate a bone-dry business story and along comes Ms. Perfect. And then, boom! Or at least that's what I'm presuming. I've tried to contact the Times since yesterday afternoon, with little success. Annette Haddad, one of the writers, didn't respond to my e-mail. Business Editor Davan Maharaj told me he'd look into it, but I haven't heard back. Judging from the comments on the post, they're being inundated with e-mails on ShaRon. Anyway, here's the post (with comments) and here's the LAT story.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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