Oregon Attorney General John Kroger has filed a lawsuit that accuses California-based American Team Mortgage Inc. of repeatedly violating Oregon's Unfair Trade Practices Act and Mortgage Rescue Fraud Protection Act. "Homeowners facing foreclosure need help, not false promises," said Keith Dubanevich, Chief of Staff and Special Counsel to Attorney General Kroger.
The lawsuit alleges that since January 2009, American Team Mortgage charged 32 homeowners a total of more than $80,000 in fees for mortgage loan modifications. Most of those fees were charged in advance of providing services in violation of Oregon law, the suit alleges. The company obtained loan modifications for only a fraction of their Oregon clients, and possibly as few as two, the suit claims.
Despite American Team Mortgage's poor record of obtaining loan modifications and despite promises to refund clients it could not help, the company refunded only two of the 32 Oregon homeowners who paid advance fees for loan modifications.
By June 2010, the lawsuit alleges, American Team Mortgage effectively went out of business. Its phone number was disconnected. Mail was returned. Dozens of Oregon homeowners were left without a loan modification or a refund. At least one client lost his home to foreclosure while others are currently facing foreclosure.
The lawsuit alleges that American Team Mortgage failed to register with DCBS.
"Companies offering loan modifications must be registered, and they must meet Oregon's strict laws designed to protect consumers," said David Tatman, administrator of the DCBS Division of Finance and Corporate Securities. "For homeowners seeking help with loan modifications, check the company's credentials, ask a lot of questions, and consider calling a non-profit HUD counselor for free assistance."
The lawsuit also alleges that Steve Hufstedler, American Team Mortgage Inc.'s owner and president, claimed in a video on American Team Mortgage's Web site that the company got "great results more than 95 percent of the time."
The lawsuit seeks to permanently ban American Team Mortgage and Hufstedler from performing loan modifications and foreclosure counseling in Oregon. The lawsuit also seeks full restitution for Oregon consumers.
For more information, visit www.doj.state.or.us.