Andrew Cuomo (D)
NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against a foreclosure rescue company for deceptive business practices and false advertising.
American Modification Agency, Inc., based in New York, and its owner, Salvatore Pane Jr., claimed to modify home mortgage loans and to lower monthly payments for consumers on the brink of foreclosure.
The company allegedly collected illegal up-front fees, leaving homeowners out more money and in worse circumstances than when they began. Representatives of the company and the company's customer service then made it impossible for the consumer to obtain accurate information, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said.
"Amerimod shamelessly took advantage of thousands of vulnerable homeowners desperately trying to save their homes," Cuomo said. "By charging up-front fees and making misleading and deceptive claims about its ability to prevent foreclosure, Amerimod blatantly ignored the law and tried to squeeze the last dollars from struggling consumers nationwide. My office is determined to obtain relief for these individuals and families, and to prevent Amerimod and other foreclosure rescue companies from continuing to engage in this kind of unlawful conduct."
Amerimod, the attorney general's investigation revealed, claimed to modify home mortgage loans and lower monthly payments but, the lawsuit filed against it revealed, failed to obtain, for the vast majority, load modifications. Many consumers seeking help from Amerimod instead ended up in foreclosure or negotiating loan modifications on their own.
Despite promises, the lawsuit alleges, the company also failed to refund the up-front fees when loan modifications could not be obtained. The company is also alleged to have grossly exaggerated its success rates, thereby engaging in deceptive and misleading practices. The company also made false promises about its ability to save customers' homes, underestimated how long it would take to accomplish a loan modification and misrepresented the company as a law office with lawyers working on customers' files.
Amerimod also made guarantees of 100 percent customer service, then failed to return the calls of customers facing imminent foreclosure who were seeking a status update on their files.
The company is also alleged to have failed to include disclosures and notices required by law in its customer contracts, including notice of a right to cancel a contract within five business days.
The loan modification company is also alleged to have provided detrimental advice, including telling customers to stop making monthly mortgage payments and to ignore communications from their lenders. The company also allegedly made false and misleading statements on its website and in newspaper and radio advertisements.
Amerimod is also accused of targeting Spanish-speaking consumers that were signed up by Spanish-speaking representatives. The company then failed to provide Spanish-language contracts as is required by law.
The attorney general's lawsuit seeks a court order to direct Amerimod to stop marketing and providing loan modification services in New York State, provide an accounting of customer fees, pay refunds and damages to all injured customers and pay monetary penalties to the state.
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