21st Century Legal Services, Inc., a California company providing loan modification services to homeowners facing foreclosure has been charged with charging consumers up-front fees in violation of Florida’s Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act.
The complaint alleges that, after initial contact is made with a homeowner, the company arranges for a “company representative” to visit the consumer at home. These representatives are, in fact, local notaries hired by the company to travel to the consumer’s home and execute the necessary sales agreements. The lawsuit states that the company instructed the notaries not to provide consumers with a copy of the written agreements, in direct violation of Florida law.
According to the Attorney General Bill McCollum’s lawsuit, the corporation solicited loan modification services to Florida homeowners by telephone, mail and internet marketing. An investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division revealed that 21st Century Legal Services charges an up-front fee as high as $2,500 to homeowners seeking loan modification services. Additionally, consumers have complained that the company has not performed the promised services and that consumers are unable to get refunds.
Other states have sued 21st Century Legal Services, and the FBI raided several of the company’s California offices in mid-September. The Attorney General’s lawsuit requests full restitution for affected homeowners and civil penalties of up to $15,000 per violation. The Attorney General’s Office is also seeking a court order permanently prohibiting 21st Century Legal Services from further violations of Florida law.