Ohio AG targets foreclosure rescue business

Nick Rees Dec. 23, 2008, 4:13pm

Nancy Rogers (D)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) -- A lawsuit has been filed in Ohio to stop a foreclosure rescue business that has victimized consumers throughout the state.

James Van Putten, doing business as "Please Save My Home," in Conneaut, Ohio, is alleged to have engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, violating the Consumer Sales Practices Act, the Telephone Solicitation Sales Act, and the Debt Adjuster's Act.

The attorney general's office said Van Putten used direct mail to solicit his services to foreclosed homeowners he found from court records. Contracts that promised to save homes from foreclosure through obtaining and providing loan modifications, legal representation and forbearance agreements were then entered into.

Van Putten's services cost, on average, $650 but none of the promised services were completed despite the payment. After payment, consumers allege that Van Putten could not be reached by telephone and additional contact was stopped, with many consumers losing their homes to foreclosure.

"Please Save My Home," a fictitious business name, is not registered with the Ohio Secretary of State as is required by law, and Van Putten is not registered as a telemarketer with the attorney general's office.

Attorney General Nancy Rogers alleges that Van Putten violated the Consumer Sales Practices Act by securing his contracts through deception, failing to clearly disclose terms and conditions of his offer and failing to honor his written refund policy.

Van Putten is also alleged to have violated the Debt Adjuster's Act by charging more than $75 for his foreclosure assistance service initial set-up fee and for charging fees or contributions exceeding $100 per calendar year.

The suit against Van Putten asks for the court to restrain him from committing further violations of the consumer laws, pay damages to consumers and to pay $25,000 for each law violation. The Democratic attorney general has also asked that Van Putten be prohibited from consumer transactions in Ohio until all payments resulting from his lawsuit have been completed.

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