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Monday, June 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

FTC Says Law Group Helped in Debt Scam

TAMPA (CN) - Mortgage and "foreclosure relief" companies backed by a law firm took thousands of dollars from customers who ended up in worse shape than they started, the FTC says. It sued the Crowder Law Group dba Legal Support Services, 11 individuals, and Washington Data Resources, and Optimum Business Solutions dba Attorney Finance Services.

The Federal Trade Commission says the defendants steered their victims away from free programs offered by lenders and suckered them into spending thousands of dollars on programs with cheerful names such as "Fresh Start Program" or "Hope4Homeowners."

In its federal complaint, the FTC says the defendants marketed their junk services as federal programs that help refinance mortgages or restructure loans. The defendants contact victims by sending postcards that tell them they are "pre-qualified," and when they hook a customer, they charge a $2,000 "loan modification fee," and send an agreement between the consumer and an attorney, according to the complaint.

As is often the case with such scams, the agreement tells the victim to have "no client contact with lender," and tells the sucker to refer all calls to the attorney. But the customers find that they cannot reach anyone who can tell them the status of their "loan modification," the FTC says.

The agency says Washington Data Resources and Optimum Business Solutions contracted with attorneys in several states to place calls to consumers to explain the process. Other than the telephone call, the attorneys have little if any involvement with the consumers and are paid for each consumer they agree to accept as a client, the FTC says. The defendants repeatedly fail to obtain the promised loan modifications.

The FTC seeks rescission of contracts, restitution and injunctions.

Washington Data Resources is a Florida corporation; Optimum Business Solutions is a Nevada LLC dba Attorney Finance Services; Crowder Law Group fka Jackson, Crowder & Associates dba Legal Support Services is a Florida corporation. Also sued, and their affiliations, are Richard A. Bishop (Optimum), Brent McDaniel (Washington Data), Tyna Caldwell (Crowder Law Group), Douglas A. Crowder (Crowder Law Group), Bruce Meltzer (Crowder Law Group), and Kathleen Lewis (Optimum).

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