Two lawsuits have been filed by the state against Arizona companies selling mortgage modification services to distressed homeowners, the attorney general's office said.
The lawsuits are against Phoenix-based Making All Homes Affordable, LLC and its owner Albert Figueroa and Tucson-based La Paz Source, LLC, its owners, Maria Beltran and her husband Francisco Ramos, and their new operation La Placita Multi Services, LLC owned and operated by Beltran and Arturo Gomez Leon.
The state alleges Making All Homes Affordable and Figueroa violated the Consumer Fraud Act by misrepresenting the nature and value of the program, which the company advertises exclusively in Spanish-language media and sells in face-to-face meetings in their office and at several retail outlets in Phoenix and Tucson, including at the office of La Placita.
The lawsuit alleges that company salespersons tell potential clients that Making All Homes Affordable can help them obtain specific, favorable mortgage modifications, including lower interest rates and principal reductions.
After homeowners pay the company nearly $1,900, homeowners discover that the program is a do-it-yourself service, allowing them access to various standardized forms and information on the company's website - forms and information that are available for free on government websites, the attorney general's office said.
The lawsuit also alleges that Making All Homes Affordable uses dozens of fake consumer testimonials on its website and that the company charges its clients a fake sales tax of 9.3 percent.
The lawsuit against La Paz Source and La Placita alleges that La Paz Source, LLC was an Arizona LLC who advertised as providing foreclosure consultant services. Consumers have reported that La Paz Source, LLC promised to stop the foreclosure process, obtain loan modifications for its consumers and communicate with lenders/servicers on behalf of its clients.
As La Paz Source, LLC, the owners and operators allegedly claimed they were authorized to conduct such business in Arizona when they were not licensed to conduct their business here. Oftentimes, La Paz Source charged very large upfront fees, which were prohibited by state and federal law, and then failed to provide the mortgage loan modification services required to earn those fees, Attorney General Tom Horne said. In some cases, the clients lost their homes in the process.
In November 2011, Beltran and Ramos dissolved La Paz Source, LLC. The same day that the owners dissolved La Paz, Beltran and Leon started La Placita, which also held itself out as being a provider of mortgage loan modification services to Arizona consumers, Horne said.
Horne said the owners deceptively and willfully target the Spanish-speaking community in Arizona to obtain a benefit through the exploitation of the consumers' Spanish/English language barrier. The owners provide contracts written only in English, Horne said. Many times, Horne said, the owners verbally explain terms of the agreement to consumers in Spanish that are in direct contradiction to the written provisions of the contract provided in English.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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