|May 2, 2011
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that her office filed a lawsuit on Friday against three South Florida companies that allegedly were charging upfront fees for loan modification services to homeowners facing foreclosure. Charging upfront fees for these services is illegal, per F.S. 501.1377. Home Owner Protection Economics, Inc., DC Financial Group, Deleverage America, Inc. and owners Dennis Fischer, and Christopher S. Godfrey purportedly collected thousands of dollars monthly in upfront fees for loan modification services that were never provided. As a result of the lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s Office, the Palm Beach County Circuit Court ordered the defendants’ assets be frozen and that they be forbidden from operating until further order of the court.
An investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division indicated that these companies, located in Delray Beach, were allegedly charging upfront fees ranging from $495 to $2,000 for foreclosure-related loan modification services that were never rendered. Allegedly, the defendants falsely represented to homeowners that they would work with lenders to reduce the homeowners’ debt and prevent foreclosure, when in reality the lender banks were never contacted on the homeowners’ behalf. The companies were allegedly soliciting hundreds of homeowners nationwide via telemarketing, direct mail, e-mail and Internet, print and TV advertising.
Based on Friday’s order, the businesses and individuals are prohibited from engaging in loan modification services or accepting any upfront fees while the litigation is pending. The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants from charging upfront fees, as well as restitution on behalf of all victimized homeowners, civil penalties of $15,000 for each violation of the Foreclosure Fraud Prevention Act, and reimbursement for fees and costs related to the investigation.
Homeowners who may have been victimized can file a complaint by visiting the Attorney General’s Web site at www.myfloridalegal.com or by calling the fraud hotline at 1-866-966-7226. More information about the Attorney General’s efforts in combating mortgage fraud, along with helpful information for homeowners in distress, is also available on www.myfloridalegal.com.