Police are currently investigating a loan modification and debt consolidation business in Florida. The owners supposedly presented themselves to clients as attorneys but were not licensed attorneys at all. The Boca Raton company claimed to be an industry leader in foreclosure and pre-foreclosure litigation in South Florida.
According to authorities, the two men convinced homeowners to stop paying their mortgages and to ignore notices from their mortgage holders to let them negotiate with the lenders. The scheme tricked homeowners into paying high upfront monthly legal fees for legal services that were not performed or supervised by a Florida attorney.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has also filed a lawsuit against these networks of fraudulent attorneys for the unlicensed practice of law. Bondi claims the network, which held itself out to be a group of 100 attorneys, posed as lawyers to take advantage of vulnerable clients. The people behind the scheme also duped inexperienced young attorneys into working for them, and the defendants even used real names of actual Florida attorneys without their knowledge.
The complaint names 20 defendants involved in the scheme. The complaint also alleges the defendants used several names for the business throughout the years such as The Asset Protection Law Group, Consumer Legal Resources of Florida, Heritage Law Group, Legal Referral Services of Florida, Consumer Legal Advocates Inc., Selective Mortgage Corp., and others.
Police issued a search warrant for the Asset Protection Law Firm in Coral Springs to be searched by multiple government agencies including the Boca Raton Police, the Secret Service, and the U.S. Attorney General’s Office.
The law firm claims to offer residential loan modification services and debt consolidation work. The SWAT team executed the warrant while 15 people were working in the office at the time and during the search Joseph Hilton was arrested. According to local police, they believe there are more than 300 victims that are involved in the fraud. Hill is now being held on a $250,000 bond and is facing a third-degree felony.
Not one of the defendants listed in the lawsuit is actual attorneys in Florida, and according to the complaint, the defendants used the names of legitimate attorneys on corporate documents and court filings.
Tampa real estate attorney Jennifer Heath claims the defendants in the case falsely named her as a vice president on corporate filings after she interviewed for a job. Heath says that she filed a police report and a Bar complaint with the Florida Bar of Examiners for falsely using her name.
Thirty-Seven clients of the company also filed formal complaints against Hill because of their tactics. When the clients no longer wished to continue using their services, the defendants would harass and threaten the clients in order to keep their business running. In addition to an office in Boca Raton, Florida, police say the defendants also keep offices in Coral Springs, Florida and West Balm Beach.
For more information about Florida foreclosure defense, contact the Law Office of David Goldman PLLC today.