Bill McCollum (R)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - A lawsuit has been filed by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum alleging that a California-based loan modification company violated Florida's Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act by charging consumers up-front fees.
The lawsuit names 21st Century Legal Services Inc., which McCollum alleges solicited loan modification services to homeowners in Florida by telephone, mail and internet marketing.
During an investigation by McCollum's Economic Crimes Division, it was revealed that 21st Century Legal charged up-front fees as high as $2,500 to homeowners seeking loan modification services. Consumers also complained that the promised services were not performed and that they were unable to obtain refunds.
According to McCollum's lawsuit, after initial contact is made with the homeowner, 21st Century Legal arranges for a visit to the consumer's home by a "company representative." These representatives are local notaries who the company hires to travel to the consumer's home and execute necessary sales agreements. The company is alleged to have instructed the notaries not to provide a copy of the written agreements to consumers in direct violation of Florida law.
McCollum's lawsuit seeks full restitution for affected homeowners as well as civil penalties of up to $15,000 per violation. McCollum is also seeking a court order to permanently prohibit 21st Century Legal from further violations of Florida law.
Florida is one of many states to have now begun legal action against 21st Century Legal, and the FBI raided several of the company's offices in mid-September.