The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau forced a California law firm and a legal help center to halt all operations after investigating the two entities for allegedly scamming borrowers with loan modification schemes.
The Dodd-Frank Act and Regulation O, which used to be known as the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule, are the subject of the CFPB's two complaints.
The CFPB said it ordered the Gordon Law Firm and the National Legal Help Center to cease all current operations. Both organizations ended up on the CFPB's radar screen after a tip from the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program raised questions about relief promises offered to borrowers. The protection bureau says the two parties took in more than $10 million by falsely promising homeowners they had the ability to prevent foreclosures and renegotiate troubled mortgages for borrowers.
Some of the allegations include illegally charging upfront fees, deceptively suggesting the programs are affiliated with government programs, misrepresenting that the parties could secure loan modifications and instructing borrowers to stop paying their mortgages and contacting lenders.
The agency says the most recent action involves the National Legal Help Center and its California operators, Najia Jalan and Richard K. Nelson.
The agency claims the firm and its two operators targeted homeowners in 50 states with promises of mortgage relief, although the consumers never received aid. The complaint claims the pair offered benefits from government programs, including the national mortgage servicing settlement. On Dec. 3, the CFPB officially filed its complaint against the legal help center and asked a U.S. District Court for a temporary restraining order, which was granted.
In a case unrelated to the National Legal Help Center, the Gordon Law firm dispute dates back to July when the CFPB first filed its action against California residents Chance Gordon and Abraham Pessar. The agency claims the two men operated a network of firms that falsely offered foreclosure-relief aid to consumers in 25 states. The defendants are now accused of using Gordon Law Firm's status as a 'law firm' to misrepresent the parties' ability to work with banks on foreclosure relief for borrowers.
On Nov. 16, a court froze the firm's assets while the case move forwards.