The N.C. attorney generals office announced Monday that it has sued two Charlotte foreclosure assistance companies that it claims ripped off customers by collecting up-front fees but then not helping them with their loans.
Both companies -- Community Mortgage Assistance Program and Lender Exchange -- denied wrongdoing when contacted by the Observer on Monday. The attorney generals office also sued a similar company, Tidewater Financial, in Wilmington.
With these suits, filed Friday in Wake County court, the attorney generals office has now sued 16 such companies doing business in the state. In general, the companies tell people who are struggling to pay their mortgages that they will help them negotiate with their lender for a fee, touting high success rates.
But they often do little to help, the attorney generals office says. And in North Carolina, its illegal to collect money upfront for foreclosure or loan modification help.
These schemes promise to help save your home but instead drive you closer to foreclosure, Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement. Victims lose precious money that could pay their mortgage, and critical time that could be spent negotiating real loan modifications.
According to the lawsuit, Community Mortgage Assistance Program advertised itself as a faith-based organization that will negotiate with a lender to stave off foreclosure or reduce mortgage payments. It said the company had a 98 percent success rate.
The company collected a fee upfront, generally $1,500, the lawsuit states, and often later misled customers that they were handling everything.
Reached by phone Monday, company principal Koy Chiu said she was unaware of any issues with her firm.
We have never had any problems, she said. We definitely dont have any lawsuits or any problems with the attorney generals office.
The lawsuit filed by the attorney generals office states that Chiu had already been sent two cease and desist letters, and that Chiu responded to one of them.
The other company, Lender Exchange, operated similarly, according to the lawsuit, often charging the equivalent of one months mortgage payment for its services.
Company principal Tanya Wilson said she was unaware of any problems with the attorney generals office, as well, and that the company had been dissolved. Another man, Kenneth McCurd, is named in the suit as well.
Were very careful about being consistent with the law, Wilson said.