Effective Jan. 1, 2013, all businesses, including employers, and consumer reporting agencies must update the Fair Credit Reporting Act notices mandated by the federal government to reflect that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has taken over enforcement of the FCRA from the Federal Trade Commission. Changes to the notices are generally stylistic and substitute CFPB references for FTC references.
Your computer software should take care of this but it does not hurt to check and make sure it is done.
FTC SUES AMERICAN MORTGAGE CONSULTING GROUP AND MARK NAGY ATALLA IN CALIFORNIA FEDERAL COURT
The Federal Trade Commission has alleged that since early 2011, the defendants claimed a phony affiliation with the U.S. government, pretended to be attorneys, and promised to substantially lower monthly mortgage payments in exchange for an up-front fee ranging from $1,495 to $4,495. Along with two companies he controls, Mark Nagy Atalla allegedly violated “nearly every provision of the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule.
The defendants telemarketed mortgage relief services to consumers nationwide, often stating that they were paid by the federal government to assist homeowners and obtain so-called “Home Saver” grants from the government to reduce consumers’ up-front fees, according to the FTC’s complaint. They also allegedly proclaimed themselves to be “a California Professional Legal Team,” sent documents to consumers from their so-called “Legal Department,” and referred to their operation in e-mails as a “law office.”
The defendants claimed they were virtually certain they could obtain loan modifications for their clients, and that the clients would receive a full refund if that did not happen, even though they did little or nothing to help consumers and they failed to provide refunds, according to the FTC.
Also, in violation of the MARS Rule, the defendants allegedly told consumers to stop communicating with their lenders, and failed to disclose that:
• Consumers would only have to pay the defendants if they accepted the terms of the mortgage assistance the defendants obtained from their lenders;
• The defendants are not associated with the government and their services are not approved by the government or the consumer’s lender; and
• Even if a consumer used the defendants’ services, the lender may not agree to change the terms of the consumer’s loan.
By their actions, the defendants diverted consumers in danger of losing their homes from pursuing authentic, government-affiliated programs, and duped them into paying thousands of dollars based on false promises and misrepresentations, according to the complaint.
A federal judge granted FTC’s request for a temporary restraining order and froze the defendants’ assets. (Case 8:12-cv-01561-DOC-JPR filed 9-18-12 cdca))
Note the assets were frozen. He is not liable until the jury says he is but where is he going to get money to retain a competent lawyer? You will note if you read the complaint that the addresses are in Newport Beach, Calif. Anyone familiar with the defendants?
STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA SHUTS DOWN ONTARIO LAWYER FOR ALLEGED FRAUD OF HOMEOWNERS IN FORECLOSURE
On Sept. 27, 2012 the State Bar of California shut down the operations of Gary David Tracy of the Realty Attorney Group APC and Realty Group & Consulting LLC for allegedly defrauding homeowners in foreclosure by falsely promising them he could help save their homes. Mr. Tracy allegedly filed shell petitions in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on behalf of distressed homeowners many of whose homes had already been sold and that had no chance of being granted according to a State Bar press release.
Since February 2009 the Bar has disciplined more than 100 attorneys for their involvement in such schemes and has disbarred 22. The Bar said it has identified at least nine clients who paid money to Tracy’s firm and were “abandoned” including one woman who paid the firm $12,400 only to later be evicted.
The Bar’s complaint alleges Tracy abdicated all responsibility for his law practice to non-attorneys. He is also alleged to have formed an unlawful partnership with a non-attorney. These employees evaluated cases and provided legal advice and theory to client. In some cases, the firm prepared documents on behalf of the client but allowed them to be filed without the client’s knowledge and with alleged forged signatures according to the complaint.
Tracy had been sanctioned $10,000 in July 2012 by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California in Santa Ana after it found his firm failed to identify itself as having prepared 80 bankruptcy filings before the court. (ladj92812p4. Statebarprrel92712)
This is one reason why we do not recommend anyone for a loan modification reference. We are not aware of anyone that is reliable and in either event no one including attorneys is allowed to collect an advance fee for loan modifications.
THREE LA RESIDENTS INDICTED FOR REAL ESTATE FRAUD INVOLVING $3.5 MILLION
On Oct. 2, three Los Angeles area residents were indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with a complex scheme that defrauded Bank of America and Fidelity National Title Co. out of $1.5 million.
On Oct. 5, the suspects were arrested at their homes by detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Real Estate Fraud Team, and booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles.
Those arrested are: Saliya “Sal” DeSilva; Nora Yefima; and Vahe Hayrapetian.
In July 2009, the owner of a residential property on Gould Avenue in La Canada-Flintridge defaulted on $3.5 million in loans which were secured by the property. Bank of America foreclosed on the property and took possession of it.