Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bay State Foreclosure Rescue Racket Ordered To Pay $1.9M+ In Victim Restitution, Penalties, Legal Fees For Ripping Off Financially Strapped Homeowners; Bogus Loan Mod Promises, Defective Bankruptcy-Related Services, Practicing Law Without License Among Bad Acts

From the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General:
  • A Lawrence financial and legal services company and its owner have been ordered by a judge to pay more than $1.9 million for preying upon vulnerable consumers during the foreclosure crisis and engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

    Pinnacle Financial Consulting, LLC and its owner, Robert Burton, have also been permanently prohibited from marketing, soliciting, or receiving fees in relation to providing loan modification, bankruptcy petition preparation, legal document preparation, and financial advising services.

    ***

    According to the lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court in March 2013, the defendants misrepresented to consumers the services they could provide, exaggerated the benefits of their services, charged unlawful advance fees, practiced law without a license, often failed to take any action to provide the promised services after receiving payment, and refused to provide promised refunds upon request. The defendants targeted financially desperate consumers, particularly minority and non-native English speakers, and marketed themselves as low-cost alternatives to attorneys and traditional law firms.

    According to the judgment, [...], the defendants obtained at least $1.2 million from more than 600 Massachusetts consumers who fell victim to the defendants' predatory scheme. In addition to defrauding their victims of desperately needed funds, the defendants caused victims to fall further behind in their mortgages, lose their homes to foreclosure, commence ill-advised bankruptcy proceedings and lose their retirement savings to fraudulent investment opportunities.

    In November 2013, a judge ordered the defendants to pay more than $240,000 after persistently and willfully violating the terms of preliminary injunction orders obtained by the AG’s Office, including by continuing to solicit consumers and receive payments for loan modification, bankruptcy petition preparation, legal document preparation and investment services.

    Under the terms of final judgment, Pinnacle and Burton are ordered to pay the Commonwealth $1.9 million, including $1.2 million in restitution for affected consumers and $665,000 in civil penalties. The defendants are also ordered to pay the Commonwealth more than $55,000 in attorneys' fees and costs.
Source: AG Obtains $1.9 Million Judgment Against Lawrence Company Over Predatory Foreclosure Rescue and Legal Services (Pinnacle Financial Consulting, LLC and Owner Robert Burton Prohibited From Doing Business in Massachusetts; Commonwealth Previously Obtained Judgment Finding Defendants in Contempt for Violating Court Orders).

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