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Bondi, feds team for lawsuit against Fla. law firm

By Bryan Cohen | Jul 24, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced on Wednesday that her office joined with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to file a lawsuit against a North Palm Beach law firm that allegedly scammed homeowners.

Hoffman Law Group (HLG) and its agents allegedly promised homeowners financial relief in the form of loan modifications, mortgage debt forgiveness, other foreclosure-related relief and cash payments through participation in mass-joinder lawsuits HLG filed against multiple mortgage lenders. The firm allegedly collected fees of $6,000 per homeowners and additional monthly fees of $500 to become part of the lawsuits.

HLG allegedly violated the federal Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule and state laws by collecting upfront fees from consumers before obtaining a loan modification, misrepresenting to consumers the services and relief they would receive, and failing to make legally required disclosures.

"Florida's distressed homeowners should not have to worry about being swindled by scammers who hide behind law firms to try to avoid the MARS Rule," Bondi said. "I appreciate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's partnership in this effort to protect Florida's homeowners."

The joint lawsuit named Marc Hoffman as the attorney and owner of HLG and Michael Harper and Benn Wilcox as managers of HLG's business and telemarketing operators. The lawsuit seeks civil penalties, disgorgement of money taken in by the company, restitution and restrictions on the defendants' future business activities.

Bondi and the bureau obtained an emergency temporary restraining order last week against HLG, which appointed a receiver to control HLG and related entities and enjoined Harper, Wilcox and Hoffman from their involvement in the business.

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