Saturday, March 26, 2011

Homeowner Gets Dubious Letter Simulating Official Court Document Demanding Full Loan Payoff Sent By Attorney; Firm Refuses Media Inquiries For Comment

In Tampa, Florida, The Tampa Tribune reports:
  • Two weeks before Glen Ables' new, modified mortgage payment was to go into effect, a mysterious letter arrived in the mail. It threatened to derail the plan to save his house from foreclosure. That letter, from a Tampa lawyer, said he and his wife had 30 days to send them the balance of their mortgage. And it came with what looked like a copy of a court document filed in the case.

  • "I called BB&T the next morning," Ables said. "They were shocked I got this letter." Even more shocking is the document. The letter implies the document was filed in court. It even says, "13th Judicial Circuit In and for Hillsborough County" at the top. It lists the plaintiff as BB&T, and it's signed by a lawyer.

  • The only thing missing is the case number, and no court document is filed without one. In fact, the form was never filed, and there has never been a foreclosure case filed against the Ables, according to a records request by the Tampa Tribune.(1)

  • "I would say it's fake," Ables said. "I would say that it's nothing more than a scam to scare people. And I believe that the group that does this did not do its homework."

  • It's unclear whether this was intentional or a mistake. But either way, real estate experts say it's a symptom of the vast number of foreclosures on the market and the factory-like way law firms are working through cases.

  • The lawyer who signed the form Ables received is Laura Walker with Tampa's Gilbert Garcia Group. She didn't return repeated phone calls over three days and declined to come out of her Tampa office to speak with a reporter. The only other attorney listed on their door, Michelle Garcia Gilbert, also didn't return calls.

For more, see Bogus letter tells man with refinanced mortgage to pay balance.

(1) This letter arguably constitutes a violation of 15 USC 1692e(9) & (10) of the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act which prohibits, in debt collection activities:

  • (9) The use or distribution of any written communication which simulates or is falsely represented to be a document authorized, issued, or approved by any court, official, or agency of the United States or any State, or which creates a false impression as to its source, authorization, or approval;

    (10)
    The use of any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a consumer.

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