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Lawyers accused in mortgage fraud case

Editorial Staff

California's Attorney General Edmund Brown has issued a case against two companies that "lured desperate home-owners with a deceptive marketing scheme." Five individuals are also named including two lawyers.

According to a statement issued by Brown, "Brown filed the USD60 million lawsuit against US Loan Auditors, My US Legal Services, and five individuals, including two attorneys, who operate a fraudulent mortgage audit scheme that preys on desperate homeowners anxious to save their homes. The suit demands civil penalties, restitution for victims and permanent injunctions to keep the companies and other defendants from fraudulently marketing forensic loan audits and legal services of little value."

It is alleged that the marketing of a "forensic loan audit" was a dubious computer-generated review of victims' mortgages. Victims paid thousands of dollars in up-front fees were given reports that showed purported breaches of laws by lenders. Sales agents then used these to convince victims that they had a cause of action against those lenders. They then sold victims on the concept of ceasing payments under their mortgages and paying, instead, to bring legal action against the lender claiming "predatory lending."

Brown says "Both companies deceive homeowners by assuring them that filing these lawsuits will give them “legal leverage” to obtain a loan modification and prevent lenders from foreclosing or collecting monthly mortgage payments. Homeowners who filed these lawsuits have lost thousands of dollars and placed themselves in greater danger of losing their homes. My US Legal Services bilks clients for months, filing cookie-cutter complaints with little or no merit, billing unjustified monthly fees, and then dodging clients’ phone calls or stringing them along with false assurances that a settlement is in progress. The litigation mill run by My US Legal Services has littered courts with hundreds of lawsuits that have scant chance of success. Two federal judges have expressed concern about the legitimacy of these lawsuits and have several times sanctioned attorneys involved."

In addition to the companies, Brown is suing the three owners: attorney and real estate broker James Sandison, Jeffrey Pulvino, and Shane Barker, as well as two California attorneys, Sharon L. Lapin and Jonathan G. Stein.

The California State Bar has filed disciplinary charges against Sandison for alleged misappropriation of clients’ funds and aiding the unauthorised practice of law.

The victims are victims twice over: having ceased payment under their secured home loans because of the representations, Brown says, they have wasted substantial sums in dubious litigation and, due to arrears on their mortgages, a number now face repossession. Brown says "hundreds" are affected.