Florida AG sues to shut down mortgage modification scheme‏

Nick Rees Dec. 22, 2009, 3:00pm

Bill McCollum (R)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Three businesses operating in Miami-Dade County, their principles and affiliated attorneys are the subject of a lawsuit filed by Attorney Bill McCollum that alleges deceptive and unfair trade practices stemming from a foreclosure rescue scam that is affecting homeowners nationwide.

In July, an investigation was launched by the attorney general's Economic Crimes Division into Kirkland Young LLC following numerous consumer complaints against the company. That investigation revealed that Attorney Aid LLC and ABL Consultants were affiliated with Kirkland Young.

All of the companies are alleged to have charged up-front fees for loan modification services and to have misrepresented to consumers that "qualifying payments" were required by lenders in order to qualify for the modifications.

"Back end" fees of as much as $1,299 were charged for the first mortgage modification and approximately $,499 to $699 for a second mortgage modification.

Consumers were required to set up escrow accounts with attorneys affiliated with the companies to facilitate the collection of additional fees. This system mislead consumers into believing that they were retaining attorney representation for their loan modification. The fraudulently collected attorney escrow account funds were then used to benefit all of the defendants.

McCollum's lawsuit is seeking a permanent injunction to prohibit the defendants from engaging in any business activity generally dealing in or related to the residential and commercial real estate businesses.

The suit also seeks restitution on behalf of all victimized consumers as well as civil penalties of $10,000 for each violation of the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. Attorneys fees and costs related to the investigation are also sought.

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