McCollum sues over loan modifier's ads

Nick Rees Jun. 23, 2010, 12:54pm


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has filed a lawsuit against a Broward County auto loan modification company for allegedly engaging in deceptive and unfair trade practices.

McCollum's civil complaint alleges that Auto Relief Group, its subsidiaries and its owners, John J. Boyle and John J. Boyle III, falsely represented to customers in national television and radio advertisements that it could reduce consumers' car payments by up to 50 percent.

Representatives of Auto Relief Group allegedly told undercover investigators that they qualified for loan modifications to reduce monthly auto loan payments by up to 50 percent. The undercover investigators were allegedly told they must pay up-front payments of between $299-$375 to qualify for the reductions.

As much as several hundred thousand dollars in up-front fees are believed to have been collected from consumers each month by Auto Relief Group, McCollum says.

In the majority of cases that resulted in lenders agreeing to modify car loans, the modifications only provided minor deferments of payments due and no reductions of the interest rate charged, McCollum says.

An injunction issued Monday froze Auto Relief Group's assets. The lawsuit seeks full restitution on behalf of all victimized consumers, civil penalties, and reimbursements for fees and costs related to the investigation.

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