Charles Craig Brown, Chad Gettel, and C.C. Brown Law, LLC are the subjects of search warrants executed at three locations for allegedly engaging in unlicensed mortgage modification activities in Minnesota.
According to the investigation, C.C. Brown Law allegedly used a national marketing campaign containing misleading information that appeared to be sent by the government. They collected up-front fees for service in 94 reported instances in Minnesota and failed to return advance fees after not completing the loan modifications.
The statement of charges issued by the Commissioner includes allegations that C.C. Brown Law, Charles Craig Brown, and Chad Gettel:
1) Operated in Minnesota without an appropriate license.
2) Collected advance fees from Minnesotan consumers totaling more than $134,000 to work with the customers’ lenders to modify the terms of their mortgages.
3) Failed to deposit the up-front fees in a trust account as required by Minnesota Statutes.
4) Accessed customers’ bank accounts using E-checks, which resulted in unauthorized withdrawals.
5) Neglected to return advance fees upon request, after failing to complete the loan modification.
6) Misled consumers by using advertisements that appeared to be sent by the government, using perforated, government-style checks, prequalification numbers beginning with the letters “U.S.” and “Housing & Economic Recovery Program (PL 110-289)” on the outside of the envelope.
Commissioner Mike Rothman, In a coordinated effort with federal law enforcement agencies, announced the charges.
The Department of Commerce worked with several agencies, including the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Minnesota Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to coordinate the investigation against the company, which had allegedly defrauded consumers seeking loan modifications throughout the country.
“As scam artists continue to adapt their tactics in an effort to steal from financially stressed consumers, the Commerce Department will use all methods necessary to protect Minnesotans from unscrupulous businesses,” said Commissioner Rothman. “This is an example of a successful partnership with local and federal agencies that allowed us to catch up with fraudsters and enforce the law across jurisdictions.”
“Many Minnesotans continue to seek opportunities to modify their loan payments to stay in their homes and afloat financially,” said Rothman. “These allegations represent the blatant exploitation of consumers in distress and out-right fraudulent activity that will not be tolerated.”
Customers working with C.C. Brown Law on mortgage modifications, who would like information, can contact the FBI at 1-877-236-8947 (press option 2). A recorded message will direct individuals to submit contact information and copies of documents to the FBI by mailing them to the FBI Salt Lake City Division, attention CC Brown Investigation, 227 East 200 South, Suite 1200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111.
A prehearing conference for the statement of charges has been scheduled for Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. before Administrative Law Judge Manuel J. Cervantes at the Office of Administrative Hearings in Saint Paul.