Attorney General Pam Bondi Joins Federal-State Mortgage Rescue Fraud Sweep
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— Attorney General Pam Bondi joined with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and 15 other states in a joint federal-state enforcement sweep targeting scam operations that prey on delinquent homeowners or those facing foreclosure. This sweep highlights recent enforcement actions and resolutions of the federal and state participants against operators of fraudulent mortgage rescue or loan modification schemes that scammed consumers into paying large upfront fees but did little or nothing to help them stay in their homes and avoid foreclosure. Florida is announcing four actions as part of this joint effort including lawsuits filed against Hoffman Law Group, Remedy Group, Law & Associates and Thomas E. Law, II, and Mark Bushee.
Mortgage rescue scams target struggling homeowners and, for an upfront fee, promise to save their homes by negotiating lower mortgage payments and other relief with the homeowners’ lenders. But after collecting upfront fees, these scam operations fail to negotiate or perform the services promised, often placing their victims at even greater risk of foreclosure.
Hoffman Law Group, et al
As announced in a separate release issued yesterday, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi jointly filed a lawsuit last week with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Hoffman Law Group and related entities and individuals. The court issued a temporary restraining order and appointed a receiver in that action.
Remedy Law Group
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office filed a suit against Pamela Gressier, a California Attorney, and Remedy Center & Associates, a California Corporation. Gressier allegedly operated a California foreclosure rescue scheme that went by various names in California with a virtual office in Orlando. The company allegedly advertised to Floridians through direct mail and various websites that is could assist Florida homeowners with mortgage modifications and foreclosure defense. Although Gressier is not licensed to practice law in Florida, she is accused of accepting at least $469,930 from 123 Florida homeowners to provide foreclosure-related rescues services that were never delivered. Click here for more information.
Law & Associates
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office obtained a final judgment against Law & Associates LLC (not a law firm) and Thomas E. Law II for violations of law in the conduct of their Pinellas-county based foreclosure rescue business which offered to assist homeowners in default on their mortgages in saving their homes from foreclosure. These defendants charged homeowners advance fees of approximately $1,590 for services that they misrepresented to consumers were guaranteed to help consumers avoid foreclosure and keep their homes or the consumers would be entitled to their money back. The Attorney General had more than 200 known consumers who had complained of the defendants’ failure to provide the services promised, and 125 known consumers who had requested refunds under the money-back guarantee but did not receive a refund. After a trial in this case, the Court found that the defendants engaged in deceptive, unfair and unconscionable practices that resulted in multiple violations of Florida law. The judgment permanently enjoins the defendants from engaging in foreclosure-related rescue services; any business offering financial services to consumers, including loan modification, credit counseling, debt management, loan brokering, debt settlement, or investment management; any business offering real estate services to consumers; and any business that engages in telemarketing. The judgment also requires defendants to pay refunds to consumers amounting to $198,594, a civil penalty of $62,500 for violation of Florida law, and attorneys fees and costs. Click here for more information.
A Pinellas County judge approved a final consent judgment against Mark Bushee to resolve a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office against Mark Bushee for violation by Bushee of a 2009 agreement with the Attorney General’s Office. The 2009 agreement by Bushee, as a managing member of IMC Financial Services, required Bushee to issue refunds to IMC customers who paid for loan modifications that never materialized and prohibited Bushee engaging in foreclosure rescue business. The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that Bushee was violating that agreement and the Consent Judgment recently obtained permanently bans Bushee from the foreclosure rescue/loan modification industry and restricts him from future activity as a mortgage broker or telemarketer in Florida. Bushee was also ordered to pay $30,000 in civil penalties and investigative costs.
Consumers who suspect a scam can contact the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-866-9-NO-SCAM.