TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi today filed a court action to stop a group of non-lawyers operating an illegitimate foreclosure defense and loan modification law firm. Adam Forman, Joseph Hilton, aka Joseph Starr, Victor Spagnuolo and others, all of whom are not lawyers, operate the Asset Protection Law Firm, Heritage Law Group, Liberty Law Group, Consumer Legal Resources, Consumer Legal Advocates, Legal Referral Services, Galler Lehman Law and Selective Housing Solutions. According to the filing, the defendants, through these law firms, unlawfully deceived homeowners into paying hefty up-front and monthly fees for legal services not supervised or approved by licensed attorneys.
“Florida homeowners facing the stress of foreclosure should not have to worry about scammers posing as lawyers and making false promises of relief to get what little money the homeowners may have. Thanks to the great work and dedication of my Consumer Protection Division, we will continue to fight foreclosure rescue fraud and protect homeowners,” said Attorney General Bondi.
The Attorney General’s Office filed the action in cooperation with the Coral Springs Police Department, Boca Raton Police Department, the Broward County State Attorney’s Office and the United States Secret Service, which are separately investigating possible criminal charges for the unlicensed practice of law.
The Attorney General’s Office received 37 complaints from consumers about the defendants’ deceptive and unfair practices, including allegations that the defendants made misleading representations regarding the law firms’ expert legal services, charged unlawful up-front fees prior to the services being completed, failed to protect the consumers’ homes from foreclosure and failed to obtain loan modifications as promised.
The complaint seeks an injunction barring the defendants from engaging in future loan modification, foreclosure defense and legal services, and also seeks full restitution for consumers harmed by the defendants’ activities.
To view the complaint, click here.
Homeowners can follow these tips to safeguard against deceptive and unfair trade practices in the mortgage and foreclosure process:
Never pay any up-front fees and avoid any high-pressure sales tactics. Fees may only be collected after services are completed;
Try talking to lenders or a lawyer before contracting with any third-party company for rescue or modification services; and
Call the Florida Attorney General’s fraud hotline at 1(866) 9-NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at MyFloridaLegal.com, if a homeowner believes to be taken advantage of by a disreputable company.
Attorney General Bondi’s Consumer Protection Division is the civil enforcement authority for all violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The Division protects Florida consumers by pursuing individuals and entities that engage in unfair methods of competition or unconscionable, deceptive and unfair practices in any trade or commerce. The Division also often partners with other state attorneys general, other state agencies, and the federal consumer protection enforcement agencies in joint enforcement efforts. Since 2011, the Division has resolved more than 550 matters and generated more than $10 billion in recoveries. Approximately $9.8 billion of that total has been scheduled or has already been returned to the benefit of Floridians.
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150