Ind. AG sues foreclosure consultant company
SHELBYVILLE, Ind. (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against a California-based foreclosure consultant company over alleged consumer protection law violations.
Premier Legal Advocates and its owner Brian Pascal were named as defendants in the lawsuit. Zoeller alleges that homeowners in seven Indiana counties signed contracts with the company believing they would help prevent foreclosure based on claims made by the defendants' advertisements and website. The company, however, was allegedly operating illegally.
"Most foreclosure consultant scams originate from out-of-state companies who make exaggerated claims and prey upon distressed homeowners in need," Zoeller said. "Hoosiers need to be aware of these frauds and seek help from legitimate housing counseling services or non-profit alternatives."
Zoeller's lawsuit alleges that Primer Legal Advocates violated Indiana's consumer protection laws when it collected close to a $1,000 fee from a Shelbyville homeowner before performing any services, even though Indiana law requires that credit service organization and foreclosure consultants register a $25,000 surety bond with Zoeller's office before performing services as a foreclosure consultant. The bond acts as an insurance policy for consumers in the event that the company fails to perform the contracted services or provide a refund.
According to the lawsuit, the company would not provide a refund despite repeated requests from the consumer. Zoeller alleges that the company committed violations of the Credit Services Organization Act, the Mortgage Rescue Protection Act and Deceptive Consumer Sales Act by failing to provide the homeowner with notice of the availability of nonprofit credit counseling and various legal rights. The lawsuit lists six other victims in the Indiana counties of Boone, Cass, Elkhart, Kosciusko, Henry and Lake.
More than two dozen lawsuits have been filed by Zoeller in the past year against foreclosure consultants.
The lawsuit seeks restitution for the Shelbyville consumer and civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation. In 2009 and 2010, Zoeller supported and recommended new legislation to crack down on foreclosure abuses that was passed by the Indiana General Assembly.