Attorney general warns to be wary of fraudulent foreclosure scams
A so-called foreclosure rescue company that previously operated in Charlotte and Colfax, N.C. and its owner are banned from ever doing foreclosure assistance work in North Carolina, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced.
This marks the 12th case won by Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division against foreclosure assistance and loan modification scams in the past five years.
“Taking people’s money and then failing to help them just pushes homeowners even closer to foreclosure,” Cooper said. “We’ll keep going after these foreclosure rescue schemes that prey on fear and promise false hope.”
Under North Carolina law, it’s illegal to charge an advance fee for help with foreclosure or loan modifications, a change Cooper fought for in 2005 after his office began to hear complaints from consumers.
Foreclosure assistance and loan modification scams typically operate by getting struggling homeowners to pay upfront for help saving their homes. In most cases, the scammers rarely do anything to help the homeowners, instead keeping their money and leaving them even deeper in trouble.
In 2010, 251 consumers filed complaints with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division about foreclosure and loan modification scams, down from 2009, when 448 consumers filed similar complaints. To fight the scammers, Cooper’s office has taken 12 foreclosure rescue operations to court, winning judgments of more than $1 million including refunds for consumers.
In this latest case, Wake County Superior Court Judge Lucy Inman agreed last week with Cooper’s request for a default judgment against Reginald Keith Turner, who did business as Hazelton Management and The Carley Group. Turner is now permanently prohibited from foreclosure assistance, loan modification and debt relief work in the state. The judgment also orders Turner to pay $32,804 in refunds to 24 consumers and $50,000 in civil penalties to local public schools.
The Attorney General’s Office first warned Turner to stop violating the law in late 2008. Instead, he reopened his business under a new name, The Carley Group, and proceeded to keep taking consumers’ money. Cooper then filed suit against Turner, alleging that he charged homeowners an advance fee of as much as $2,500 but did little or nothing to help save their homes. Turner shut down his operations and left North Carolina after Cooper won a temporary court order against his foreclosure rescue work in June 2010.
Rather than paying for foreclosure assistance, Cooper recommends that North Carolina homeowners seek free help by calling a toll-free hotline set up by the NC Commissioner of Banks’ Office. The hotline, 1- 866-234-4857, is available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
Consumers who suspect fraud by a foreclosure rescue company should call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or file a consumer complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov.
Cooper is also helping lead a multi-state investigation into foreclosure practices by major lenders in North Carolina and across the country.
“Homeowners who can’t get answers from their lenders are more likely to fall for foreclosure scams,” Cooper said. “Foreclosure is inevitable in some cases, but when possible consumers deserve a fair chance to modify their loans and keep their homes.”
Consumers who suspect fraud by a foreclosure rescue company should call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-877-5-NOSCAM or file a consumer complaint online at www.ncdoj.gov.