March 22, 2010
Jefferson City, Mo.-Attorney General Chris Koster today announced that the operators of a foreclosure-relief business will no longer be allowed to do business in Missouri or other states, thanks to a court settlement with Missouri, California and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). US Foreclosure Relief Corp., George Escalante, Cesar Lopez and Adrian Pomery are permanently banned from selling mortgage loan modification or foreclosure relief services.
Koster filed suit against the business and its former operators last April, saying the business took money from consumers without providing any help to them. The settlement also provides that the settling defendants release all claims to more than $1 million previously frozen by the court; this money will be available for consumer restitution.
"In Missouri we take a zero tolerance stance against foreclosure relief and mortgage modification companies that do nothing but make false promises to consumers," Koster said. "We will continue to investigate these companies and use all means available to stop them from cheating Missouri consumers."
Koster said consumers need to watch out for companies that charge up-front fees before providing any service. In most instances, US Foreclosure Relief charged homeowners a fee of $1,850 for its services, along with a processing fee of $500. The company demanded payment upfront, in violation of Missouri law. Missouri law is clear that companies may not charge or collect payment until the foreclosure consultant service is performed.
"Missouri law clearly bans up-front fees for mortgage-relief and debt-settlement companies. Seeing that a company charges up-front fees for these services should be a warning to a consumer not to do business with that company," Koster said.
Attorney General Koster urged consumers who have been the victims of fraudulent mortgage-relief companies, or who are concerned about the practices of their lender, to contact his consumer hotline at 800-392-8222 or to go online at www.ago.mo.gov.