A press release issued today by Nebraska AG Jon Bruning's office said that the state has filed a lawsuit against Omaha-based mortgage broker Advantage Mortgage Service, Inc. over alleged predatory lending practices. Advantage Mortgage "targeted those with adjustable rate mortgages whose interest rates are rising dramatically," Bruning said -- which I found interesting -- and engaged a numerous practices that allegedly violated Nebraska's Mortgage Bankers Registration and Licensing Act, the Consumer Protection Act and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Based on the Department's investigation, the complaint alleges that Advantage Mortgage employed tactics such as falsifying closing documents, forging borrowers' signatures on loan documents, and charging hidden and excessive brokerage fees to borrowers ... The State further alleges that Advantage Mortgage knowingly and illegally employed an individual convicted of felony financial crimes as one of its loan officers ... The Department's investigation discovered that, on at least one occasion, the suspect loan officer is believed to have forged a customer's signature on a check and deposited the funds into his own personal account.
An AP report on the lawsuit said that Advantage funded $100 million annually and that the company has more than 30 employees. I wanted to mention this because it highlights a problem many troubled borrowers facing reset likely will have to wade through -- trying to find help that is just that. Whether Advantage actually engaged in the business practices alleged against it or not, you can bet there are plenty of companies out there viewing desperate borrowers as easy targets.