Missouri AG files suit against Florida loan modification company‏

By Nick Rees | Nov 30, 2009

Chris Koster (D)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Attorney General Chris Koster has filed a lawsuit against a Florida mortgage modification company he alleges took money from distressed Missouri homeowners without providing any meaningful service.

The lawsuit against First Universal Lending LLC is Koster's eighth against a fraudulent mortgage business since he began his zero tolerance campaign against mortgage fraud in April.

"This Attorney General's office has instituted a zero tolerance policy for any mortgage modification firm that preys on and cheats desperate homeowners," Koster said. "Our office will use all its powers to investigate and prosecute businesses involved in these foreclosure rescue schemes to defraud Missouri consumers."

Universal Lending LLC, based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., transacts business throughout Florida. Koster alleges that the company markets its service to homeowners who are facing foreclosure or having difficulty paying their mortgages. The company promises lower house payments or lower interest rates but, in actuality, does little or nothing for most of its customers.

Company representatives, Koster alleges, told some clients to stop making mortgage payments while the modification process was underway. This resulted in consumers harming their credit rating, higher late fees, interest payments and an increase likelihood of foreclosure.

Koster also alleges that the business required up-front payment fees before services would be provided, a practice that is illegal for mortgage modification companies in Missouri.

The lawsuit seeks restitution for consumers who suffered losses, appropriate monetary penalties and preliminary and permanent injunctions prohibiting First Universal from violating Missouri's consumer protection laws.

Koster's announcement of the lawsuit is part of the nationwide "Operation Stolen Hope" sweep on mortgage scams coordinated by the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice and 20 other states.

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