Ohio AG sues escrow service company

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray has filed a lawsuit against an Illinois-based escrow service company that he alleges defrauded Ohioans out of thousands of dollars.

Cordray's lawsuit alleges that American Escrow and its owners, Derek C. Lurie and Steven Lurie, claimed to provide their clients with escrow services to aid them in paying property taxes or homeowner's insurance. The defendants, Cordray alleges, never made payments on the behalf of their clients.

"Ohioans who contracted with this company lost thousands of dollars that they had set aside to pay taxes and insurance premiums," Cordray said.

"In the end, not only were their taxes and premiums not paid, but they had to come up with additional money out-of-pocket."

American Escrow, the lawsuit says, entered into contracts with consumers to provide escrow services for annual payment of property taxes and homeowner's insurance.

The approximate annual amount was divided by 12 payments, which were collected monthly from consumers, Cordray said, and a one-time set up fee of $250 was charged to consumers along with a $6.50 monthly service charge.

The lawsuit alleges that payments for some consumers ceased in the fall of 2008 but that money was collected through March 2009.

American Escrow and its principals are charged with multiple violations of Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act, including failure to deliver and unfair and deceptive consumer sales practices.

In addition to restitution and civil penalties, Cordray is seeking permanent injunctive relief against the defendants.

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