Millions of homeowners in 17 states may be victims of modification scamby Gina Pogol
In a recent article entitled “Is it time to sue your mortgage lender,” HSH.com offered a rundown of the kinds of mortgage lawsuits making their way through the country’s court systems. Among those filings are mass joinder lawsuits, which cost as much as $10,000 upfront to join.
HSH.com warned that these filings could be deceptive, designed to get around laws that prohibit upfront payments for mortgage modification help.
Kamala Harris, the State of California’s Attorney General, agrees. Today she unleashed a suit against prominent foreclosure attorneys Philip Kramer and Mitchell Stein and at least 17 other individuals and businesses. They’ve been charged with luring borrowers into a scheme that falsely promised a share in future settlements.
Scammy? Judge for yourself
Check out this promotion from a SueMyBank.us video, which says:
“Do you have a pending foreclosure? Is your mortgage bigger than your house? Join 1,600 homeowners in a mass joinder lawsuit and sue your lender for complete cancellation of your mortgage.”
Yep, they promise “complete cancellation,” despite the fact that Kramer et al have NEVER successfully sued a lender and gotten this result.
They also claim “success” in a real case, Ronald v Bank of America, despite the fact that there has been no settlement or decision in the case. It’s still ongoing.
If you think someone can call himself a lottery winner before the numbers have even been drawn, go ahead and give this guy or someone like him your money.
There is no free house
The other misrepresentation Kramer and cronies make is to claim that other homeowners have been awarded homes because their lender couldn’t produce paperwork proving ownership of the mortgage.
That’s not true.
The fact is that a judge in Florida ordered a lender to post a $414,000 bond before foreclosing to protect the homeowner because the lender couldn’t locate documents proving ownership of the note. It failed to do so, and the judge canceled the note to punish the lender (and its lawyer).
Implying that this decision means borrowers get free houses when lenders can’t produce paperwork is highly misleading.
Ditto the “landmark” case in Massachusetts, US Bank v Ibanez, in which a foreclosure proceeding was invalidated but the mortgage note was not. Again, there was no free house.
Kramer cries foul
Phillip Kramer claims that other “rogue” firms have perpetrated the fraud and used his name.
The Better Business bureau doesn’t think so. It states that a company called Mass Litigation Alliance filed corporate papers with the California Secretary of State, listing Philip A. Kramer of Calabasas, Calif. as the company’s agent.
Philip Kramer is a senior partner of Kramer & Kaslow, a Calabasas law firm with an “F” grade from the Los Angeles BBB. Consumers have filed more than 30 complaints about the firm.
Most allege the firm didn’t fulfill contracts for loan modification or foreclosure related services, that the firm misrepresented its ability to provide service, or that the complainant was unable to obtain refunds of advance fees. The BBB found more than 50 website addresses linked to Mass Litigation Alliance.
Each site is virtually identical to the others except for phone numbers. They have names such as thetruthaboutyourmortgage.com and paybackthebanks.com. These have since been taken down.
Offices have been raided
The State of California doesn’t think it has the wrong guy. It raided offices, closed down firms, and froze the assets of all allegedly involved. Many of their web sites have been pulled down as well.
However, the pitches are widely available, as consumer investigators and other folks have helpfully posted them on YouTube.
The face of fraud
Not everyone offering mortgage modification help or foreclosure prevention assistance is out to rip you off. But those who want money in advance of providing any service probably are.
Unless you want to finance some creep’s retirement in the Caymans, your best bet is to seek out foreclosure mediation through your state or modification help from a HUD-approved non-profit housing counselor.