Ameriquest and other mortgage companies are paying $325 million to homeowners who were victimized by predatory home mortgage sales schemes. Other companies involved in the settlement are Town and County Credit Corporation and AMC Mortgage Services, Inc., formerly known as Bedford Home Loans.

The settlement resolves allegations that Ameriquest and its affiliates failed to adequately disclose home loan terms, failed to disclose whether loans carried fixed or adjustable rates, refinanced borrowers into inappropriate loans, inflated the appraisals used to qualify borrowers for loans, and charged excessive loan origination fees and prepayment penalties.

The company engaged in these unlawful mortgage lending practices from 1999 through 2005.

"Hard-working families trying to buy a home wound up as targets of improper sales practice," said California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. "This settlement provides homebuyers with at least some of the restitution they deserve."

Attorneys general from the District of Columbia and every state except Virginia, where Ameriquest did not conduct business, are also parties to the settlement.

Forms being mailed to consumers today indicate the minimum payment that customers can expect to receive. The average restitution payment is $812.15 but the amount could be larger depending upon how many customers choose to participate in the settlement.

Consumers who want the restitution payment should mail completed and signed forms to the settlement administrator by September 10, 2007.

Consumers who accept the restitution payment will relinquish their right to file lawsuits against Ameriquest unless their home goes into foreclosure. If a consumer's home goes into foreclosure, the consumer may still file a lawsuit against Ameriquest even if the restitution payment was accepted.

Consumers are encouraged to consult a private attorney or legal services attorney before deciding whether to participate in the settlement.

A "Frequently Asked Questions" pamphlet was mailed with the claim forms to provide additional information about the restitution process for eligible consumers. Consumers can also obtain detailed information about the settlement by contacting the Ameriquest Settlement Administrator by calling 1-800-420-5875 (1-866-494-8274 for deaf or hard of hearing consumers).

"Texans will not tolerate predatory lending schemes that lock would-be homeowners into a seemingly endless cycle of debt," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. "We are pleased that Texas homeowners who were harmed by this lending giant will share nearly $21 million in refunds. The Office of the Attorney General will continue protecting homeowners from deceptive lenders."