The California Office of the Attorney General has shut down seven mortgage companies, accusing accusing a family of licensed real estate professionals of predatory lending and conning homeowners into refinancing deals that caused most to lose their homes.Attorney General Jerry Brown said his prosecutors would be seeking penalties and restitution of more than $20 million in the scam by the companies, including Lifetime Financial Inc., led by 25-year-old real estate agent Eric Pony and his sister Paulette Pony. Their mother Wilma Pony was named as a defendant in the lawsuit but not accused in the criminal case.
“As the mortgage crisis worsens, a growing number of fly-by-night companies are employing increasingly brazen tactics to push desperate homeowners into illegal and unconscionable loans,” Brown said.
“This is among the worst we’ve ever seen,” Brown said. “This is not just exaggeration and puffing. This is straight-out, deliberate stealing and fraud.”
The accused have either surrendered their real estate licenses or had them revoked by the California Department of Real Estate. Their assets – more than $6 million in properties – were frozen and their Ferraris, Mercedes Benzes and a Bentley were also seized.
Brown expects to bring both civil and criminal legal actions against other “foreclosure consultants” and mortgage lenders he has terms “unscrupulous”.
The suspects are accused of forging signatures when consumers would not sign paperwork, making false promises about favorable loan conditions and ignoring requests to cancel loans within the three-day window provided by the federal Truth in Lending Act.
Read the Full Article on the California Attorney General’s website.