As 2011 was coming to a close, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed her 50th lawsuit against a mortgage rescue scam. The December lawsuit was targeted at scams which con homeowners by charging significant amounts of money in upfront fees promising to help the homeowner avoid foreclosure.
As Oak Park foreclosure attorneys, we are proud that our Attorney General has established Illinois as the most aggressive state in the nation to combat this type of fraudulent scheme. The 50 lawsuits have so far resulted in 28 injunctions against scam operations and court-ordered restitution of $2 million to affected homeowners. Madigan has also issued 622 cease and desist orders to mortgage operators telling them to stop charging homeowners upfront costs for mortgage rescue services, which is illegal in Illinois.
These mortgage “rescue” consultants are nothing more than con men who claim that for a large fee, they can negotiate with the lender to try to save the home from foreclosure. In reality, these con men take the money and run and the homeowner has wasted money that could have gone toward the troubled mortgage, often speeding up foreclosure proceedings instead of the promised “rescue”. If you believe you are the victim of such a scam, an Oak Park foreclosure lawyer can help you understand where to start and what you might be entitled to under Illinois law.
In this 50th lawsuit, the Attorney General sued three companies- Acceptance Financial Corporation in Northbrook, Elite Outsourcing Services Inc in Midlothian, and International Embassy Realty Inc in Elgin- for taking more than $44,000 altogether from homeowners for promises to assist in negotiating a loan modification program from the lender. The companies in reality did nothing. The Attorney General’s office alleges that Acceptance Financial targeted mostly Polish and Russian immigrants and advertised in those languages on the radio for loan modification for an upfront fee. Elite Outsourcing Services allegedly accepted at least 100 upfront fees from homeowners seeking loan modifications. International Embassy allegedly targeted a Spanish speaking audience and told homeowners to stop paying on their mortgages to “speed up” the loan modification process, but in reality the conduct only sped up the foreclosure process for these homeowners.
This lawsuit, filed in Cook and Kane Counties’ Circuit Courts, is seeking to shut down the three operations and get restitution for the scammed consumers. It also seeks to ban the companies from providing these mortgage rescue services in Illinois and also to obtain civil penalties for violations of the Consumer Fraud or Mortgage Rescue Fraud Act. This Act, which went into effect in 2007, was enacted to aide struggling homeowners at risk of losing their homes from unscrupulous behavior of such scam artists.
Even in a stressful situation like facing foreclosure on your home, it is important to remain informed and vigilant against scams. The old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” holds firm today. If you are already the victim of one of these unscrupulous companies, learn about your rights under Illinois’s foreclosure protection laws.
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