The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has accused
a Florida company and its owners with violating the Fair Housing Act by targeting Hispanic homeowners in a predatory mortgage modification scheme that increased their risk of foreclosure.
HUD charged claims that Advocate Law Groups of Florida P.A. (ALG), Jon B. Lindeman Jr., and Ephigenia K. Lindeman of creating a deceptive mortgage loan modification advertising campaign that aired on Spanish-language radio and television stations throughout Florida. HUD alleged that Spanish-speaking ALG employees made false promises to coerce Hispanic homeowners to pay hefty upfront fees and to sign contracts that were predominantly, if not entirely, written in English. HUD stated that ALG instructed the homeowners to halt their mortgage payments and cease all communications with their mortgage lenders or servicers.
HUD’s charge was brought after complaints by three Orland households, who claimed that ALG threatened them with increased mortgage payments, fines or foreclosure if they sought to terminate their relationship.
“Intentionally targeting families with predatory mortgage services because of their national origin is a clear violation of the Fair Housing Act,” said Paul Compton, HUD’s general counsel. “This charge sends a clear message that HUD will protect the housing rights of all persons to the fullest extent of the law.”