Lawsuit filed over upfront fees by Fla. foreclosure rescue companies‏

By Nick Rees | Nov 9, 2009

Bill McCollum (R)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Two Central Florida companies and their owner have been hit with a lawsuit by Attorney General Bill McCollum over allegations of up-front fees charged for foreclosures rescue-related services.

National Payment Modification Company and The Bostonian Group LLC, doing business under the name People's First, are alleged in the suit of charging as much as $2,500 in up-front fees to homeowners who are seeking to rescue their homes from foreclosure.

William Rodriguez, the owner of both companies, is also named in the suit. Rodriguez was a founding owner of Wineberg, Lopez & Rodriguez Company, which was sued by the attorney general's office in March. An emergency injunction was also obtained against that company that barred it from charging any fee to homeowners in advance for providing foreclosure-related rescue services. That case is still pending in Orange County Circuit Court.

An investigation into National Payment and Bostonian by the attorney general's Economic Crimes Division working as part of the attorney general's Mortgage Fraud Task Force revealed that both companies were charging up-front fees. The up-front fee was then divided into five equal payments that were secured by post dated checks. Each check, the lawsuit alleges, was then associated with a separate sub-contract or step in the loan modification process.

Consumer complaints against the company allege that the post-dated checks were cashed even if the companies had not begun negotiations or even contacted the consumers' lenders.

The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the charging of up-front fees by the companies, restitution on behalf of injured consumers, civil penalties of $15,000 for each violation and reimbursement for fees and costs related to the investigation.

The suit comes as part of a larger action by the attorney general's office to stop up-front fees for foreclosure-related services. Currently, more than 75 companies are being investigated over the practice.

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