(Phoenix, Ariz. - Jan. 13, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard today filed a lawsuit against a Phoenix-based mortgage loan modification company, Asset Creation, LLC, and its owner, Marvin Williamson, for engaging in allegedly deceptive practices. This lawsuit is the latest action in the Attorney General’s crackdown on mortgage loan modification businesses that use misleading advertising or engage in other fraudulent practices.
More than 2,500 consumers have contracted with Asset Creation for loan modification services in the past two years.
“I am committed to fighting deceptive practices targeted at homeowners who are struggling to make their payments,” Goddard said. “Instead of providing assistance, too many loan modification companies pocket large upfront fees and fail to obtain any kind of mortgage relief.”
The lawsuit alleges that since January of 2008, Asset Creation falsely represented its loan modification services to consumers throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area on its web sites and in local Spanish language media. According to court documents, Asset Creation charged consumers upfront fees ranging from $1,680 to $3,430 for loan modification services, after representing in newspaper ads that it could obtain a 50 percent reduction in the homeowners’ mortgage payments and stating on its web sites that it could help any homeowner, regardless of their situation.
In addition, the company provided all potential applicants a "Client Proposal" that highlighted a new mortgage payment that was approximately 20 percent lower than the consumer's current payment. The lawsuit also alleged that Asset Creation falsely represented that it would refund consumers’ money if it could not obtain a loan modification for them and that it had been performing loan modification services for consumers since 2003.
The lawsuit alleges that Asset Creation’s actions violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act by:
- Misrepresenting to consumers that it could obtain specific results.
- Falsely representing to consumers that they would receive a refund of their fees if Asset Creation was unable to obtain a loan modification on the consumers’ behalf.
- Misrepresenting that Asset Creation has been providing loan modification services to consumers since 2003.
In the lawsuit, Goddard requests that the court order Asset Creation and Marvin Williamson to:
- Refrain from violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.
- Pay full restitution to all homeowners who paid Asset Creation for loan modification services.
- Pay the State of Arizona a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation of the Consumer Fraud Act.
- Reimburse the Attorney General’s Office for its costs of investigation and legal fees incurred in this matter.
The Attorney General recommends that homeowners who are in or facing foreclosure seek assistance promptly from their mortgage lender or servicer or a government-approved housing counselor. Federal, state and local governments offer numerous free resources for distressed homeowners, including the Arizona Foreclosure Help-Line at 1.877.448.1211. For a list of HUD-approved housing counselors, please refer to HUD’s website at http://www.hud.gov.
Additional tips and resources, including the Foreclosure Information Workbook created by the Arizona Foreclosure Prevention Task Force, are available on the Attorney General’s web site, www.azag.gov. This workbook not only describes the tactics used by deceptive firms but also provides helpful examples of common letters, forms and filings for attempting to modify a loan or otherwise avoid foreclosure.
A copy of the lawsuit is attached. For additional information, contact Molly Edwards at (602) 542-8019.