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[ATG] Zoeller targets foreclosure consultants for ripping off local homeowners
Start Date: 6/25/2013 All Day
End Date: 6/25/2013
Entry Description

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. – Two Florida-based foreclosure consultant companies face state lawsuits today after taking more than $7,500 from local homeowners and not providing services or refunds.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed lawsuits in Morgan County against CapLaw, P.A. and Jeffrey A. Smith Law Group, P.A.  According to the complaints, the companies illegally solicited Indiana residents and entered into contracts with homeowners promising to obtain home loan modifications in exchange for upfront fees. 

“Illegitimate foreclosure consultants prey on already struggling homeowners who are desperate to stay in their homes,” Zoeller said. “Indiana has strong statutes protecting homeowners that prohibit for-profit companies to ask for money up front. Consultants who make ‘too good to be true’ promises that end up costing consumers thousands of dollars and meanwhile the foreclosure process moves forward are not welcome in Indiana. My office will use the resources necessary to shield homeowners from being ripped off.”

Defendant CapLaw, P.A., also known as the Law Office of James F. Caplan, P.A., and its owner James F. Caplan collected $1,200 to $3,300 in up-front fees from two consumers.

Jeffrey A. Smith Law Group, P.A., also known as JAS Law Group and Jeffrey A. Smith Law Firm,  and its owner Jeffrey A. Smith are accused of taking $3,034 from a Martinsville resident after promising to obtain a home loan modification.

Both defendants are accused of taking the money and not rendering the promised services or providing refunds. The companies did not register $25,000 surety bonds with the Attorney General’s Office.  These bonds are required before services can be performed, including collecting money up front. They also did not obtain certificates of authority from the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office to conduct business in Indiana.                                                                                                                                                                              

According to the lawsuits, both businesses violated the Credit Services Organization Act, the Mortgage Rescue Protection Act, the Home Loan Practices Act and Indiana’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act. Zoeller is seeking injunctions against the companies, restitution for the victims, civil penalties and attorneys' fees.

Zoeller noted that distressed homeowners at risk of foreclosure need not pay a large fee to a for-profit company, when advice on avoiding foreclosure is available for free from the Indiana Foreclosure Prevention Network at 1.877.GET.HOPE. Hoosiers who believe they have been a victim of a foreclosure consultant scam can file a complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at www.indianaconsumer.com or by calling 1.866.382.5516.

To help struggling homeowners and renters, $28.8 million was made available to support the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The money stems from the National Mortgage Settlement

Zoeller entered into with the nation’s five largest banks over their foreclosure and mortgage servicing practices. The Indiana Legislature directed the new monies to the program to assist distressed renters and homeowners pay heating bills to avoid disconnection. Zoeller said this heating assistance could help borrowers continue to make their home loan payments and stay in their homes.

Zoeller thanked Deputy Attorney General Laura Turner for her work on the cases and dedication to the Homeowner Protection Unit.

-30-

Contact Information:
Name: Erin Reece
Phone: 317.232.0168
Email: Erin.Reece@atg.in.gov
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Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • IN.gov Category:
  • About Indiana
  • Agency Name
    Attorney General

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