December 16, 2009
Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler says the state has won a court judgment of nearly $1 million against individuals and companies operating what state officials characterize as a foreclosure rescue scam.
A circuit court in Baltimore entered the judgment against Rodney Spellen, Mid Atlantic Consulting, Inc., Jemel Lyles, Absoloot Ventures Inc., Brian Boyd, 1st Choice Property Management Firm, Inc., Sahar Ali, Alan Muniu, Phillip George, Certified Title & Escrow, Inc., and Reggie Simmons, based on violations of Maryland laws.
The court also issued an order that bars each of the defendants from offering and selling services of any kind to a homeowner who is in default on a mortgage or is in foreclosure, and requires them to pay a total of $987,030 in damages, restitution and penalties.
In June 2008, the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division filed a complaint in Baltimore City Circuit Court alleging that each defendant participated in an illegal foreclosure rescue scheme. The complaint alleged that the defendants, acting together, promised to save consumers' homes from foreclosure and restore their credit ratings.
In fact, Gansler says the defendants attempted to take title to the homes and strip them of the equity, in violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, the Maryland Protection of Homeowners in Foreclosure Act and the Maryland Credit Services Businesses Act. On November 9, 2009, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City entered summary judgment in favor of the Division and against each of the defendants except Reggie Simmons.
A trial was held in November to determine Simmons' liability and the appropriate measure of damages, restitution and penalties for each of the defendants. The court found that each of the defendants violated Maryland law by operating an illegal foreclosure rescue scam and entered a monetary judgment totaling $987,030.
"Maryland law prohibits foreclosure consultants from attempting to strip equity from the homes of vulnerable consumers," Gansler said. "The court's order should send a strong message to unscrupulous individuals who operate these illegal schemes and take advantage of consumers desperate to keep their homes."
The case involved 10 consumers' homes. Under the court's order, the defendants have been ordered to pay $757,030, which equals the amount of equity that the court found was stripped from these homes. The order further requires the defendants to pay penalties totaling $230,000.