Friday, May 08, 2009

Washington AG Scores Big Win In Bogus Equity Stripping, Land Trust/Sale Leasebacks & Surplus Ripoffs; Foreclosure Rescue Operator Tagged For $4.2M

From the Washington State Office of the Attorney General:
  • The Washington Attorney General’s Office declared a major victory for consumers today in response to a judge’s order that a notorious foreclosure rescue scammer must pay more than $3.2 million to victims he wronged plus $179,000 in penalties for violating the Consumer Protection Act.
  • Joseph Kaiser’s a cunning real estate investor who made his living by claiming to help people facing tax foreclosure – then taking their homes, land and money,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said. “Thanks to the hard work of our Consumer Protection Division, he will no longer be able to prey on struggling homeowners.” The Attorney General’s Office also obtained an order permanently stopping Kaiser from participating in real estate transactions with people facing foreclosure.
  • Kaiser, of Tacoma, was the first foreclosure “rescuer” to be tried by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, which works to enforce a fair marketplace for consumers and businesses. He is the author of several books describing tactics for making quick profits from real estate and has conducted seminars to teach his methods for earning large amounts of money through deals involving distressed properties.
  • Kaiser entered transactions with more than 300 property owners. No one has ever successfully regained their home from Kaiser. Assistant Attorneys General Jim Sugarman and Jake Bernstein represented the state in the trial, which included six days of testimony and arguments by attorneys on both sides during December 2008 and January 2009.
  • Kaiser’s victims were elderly, disabled or low-income individuals – people who trusted him to solve their foreclosure problems and were betrayed,” Sugarman said. “Kaiser portrayed himself to these people as an expert in saving homes facing foreclosure, when he is actually an expert in taking homes facing foreclosure.”
  • King County Superior Court Judge Palmer Robinson ordered Kaiser to pay nearly $4.2 million including more than $780,000 to partially repay the state for the costs and attorney fees for bringing the lawsuit. It’s a significant finale to a case that began in March 2007 when the state filed civil charges against Kaiser and simultaneously settled with several of his colleagues.
  • In its complaint, the state alleged that the defendants used public records filed with county treasurers to contact property owners with offers to help solve their foreclosure problems. Their real intent, however, was to obtain ownership of the home or to let the home be sold at tax foreclosure and then take the excess sales money that should have been paid to the homeowner.
  • Trial Judge Michael Trickey called Kaiser’s contracts “grossly unfair.” “No fully informed person, not acting under compulsion, would enter a transaction with such onerous terms,” Trickey wrote in his decision [at paragraph 12].
For the entire press release(1), see Pay time for notorious foreclosure rescue scammer (Attorney General announces major victory in state’s case with Washington man who promised help but took homes).

See also, Seattle Post Intelligencer: Foreclosure guru hit with $3.2 million penalty ("I'm the Tiger Woods of foreclosure rescue" accused man claims).

(1) Relevant court documents and other case information: