Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced his office has filed a lawsuit against The Modification Group LLC (TMG), a Cleveland business that offered to help homeowners avoid foreclosure in exchange for $1,995 or more. The lawsuit alleges multiple violations of Ohio consumer law, including failure to deliver. “We have received dozens of complaints against The Modification Group,” AG DeWine said. “Consumers said they paid advance fees for help reaching a loan modification, but never received the promised help. In many cases, homeowners who believed they were doing the right thing to help save their homes ended up in even worse financial situations.”
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office currently has 70 complaints against TMG dating back to December 2009.
AG DeWine’s suit, filed in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, alleges that TMG and its director, Robert Walker, charged homeowners an advance fee of $1,995 or one percent of the mortgage balance, whichever was greater, for loan modification services that it never delivered, such as eliminating late payments and lowering interest rates. TMG contracts promised 80 percent refunds for homeowners who did not receive loan modifications, but the lawsuit alleges that TMG failed to provide refunds in many cases.
The lawsuit charges TMG with violations of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, Debt Adjusters Act, Telephone Solicitation Sales Act and Credit Services Organization Act. DeWine is seeking civil penalties and full restitution for consumers.
“Ohioans should never pay upfront fees for help avoiding foreclosure,” AG DeWine said. “As of Feb. 1, 2011, companies cannot charge any fees for foreclosure assistance until they receive a loan modification offer from the consumer’s lender.”