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Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP File Sixth Lawsuit Targeting Loan Modification Scam Activity in Nassau County, New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: AUGUST 29, 2012

CONTACTS:
Stacie B. Royster, Director of Communications 
Lawyers' Committee  
(202) 662-8317  
sroyster@lawyerscommittee.org                                                                

Katie Harter, Public Relations Office
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
(212) 450-3039
Katie.harter@davispolk.com

NEW YORK, NY - The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers' Committee) and pro bono counsel Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Davis Polk) have filed their sixth lawsuit against a Nassau County, New York based for-profit loan modification company.   This suit, Aviles v. Norton Law Group, LLC, was filed in New York Supreme Court in Nassau County, on behalf of 11 homeowners.  It alleges that the loan modification scam, operated by Kyle Eric Norton and Kevin O'Rourke, and their Nassau County-based firm, the Law Offices of Kyle Norton, P.C., defrauded vulnerable homeowners by falsely promising-for substantial upfront fees-to obtain much-needed mortgage modifications on their behalf, and then consistently failing to deliver results.  After heeding the company's advice to stop making their mortgage payments, clients faced a greater risk of foreclosure.  The case seeks to recover monetary damages, including the illegal upfront fees paid by plaintiffs, and injunctive relief to put an end to the deceptive practices of the named defendants.  The Lawyers' Committee and Davis Polk are representing the plaintiffs free of charge. (Click here to view Complaint)

The scheme at issue in this case is alleged in the complaint to have operated as follows:

  • In exchange for sizable advance fees of thousands of dollars, collected in violation of New York law, defendants promised to work directly with plaintiffs' lenders to renegotiate their home loans and to secure lower monthly payments and interest rates, and, in some instances, avoid impending foreclosure.
  • Defendants lured homeowners by touting their specialized experience in the industry, high success rates in achieving modifications (sometimes touting a success rate of 98%), and offering the services and expertise of seasoned attorneys.
  • Defendants then encouraged their victims to stop paying their mortgage payments and made them agree not to contact their lenders.
  • Ultimately, defendants performed little to no work on plaintiffs' loan modification applications, typically failing to make any substantial contact with their lenders. Their unsuspecting clients, not having made any mortgage payments, are left facing a greater risk of foreclosure.

"The impact of this type of scam activity on financially distressed homeowners has proven devastating," said Linda Mullenbach, senior counsel for the Fair Housing and Fair Lending Project at the Lawyers' Committee. "Not only are homeowners being defrauded out of thousands of dollars, but they ultimately sustain a variety of other losses, including late fees and damage to credit scores and face a greater risk of foreclosure as a direct result of the scam."

Aviles v. Norton Law Group, LLC is the Lawyers' Committee's eighth loan modification scam lawsuit filed nationally, as part of the Lawyers' Committee's work with the Loan Modification Scam Prevention Network (LMSPN). This litigation effort seeks  to  put  an  end  to  the  fraudulent  and  deceptive  behavior  of  so-called  loan modification "specialists."  LMSPN is a broad coalition that also includes representatives from key governmental agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the offices of numerous state Attorneys General. Since the launch of the national LMSPN database in February 2010 through August 20, 2012, more than 24,800 homeowners nationwide have filed complaints regarding scams or potential scams, representing over $­­­60 million in monies lost to such scams. More than 1,400 of these reports have been submitted by New York homeowners, who have reported losses of over $4.7 million in fees paid to alleged loan modification scammers.

Homeowners who believe they have been victims of a scam or have information about a scam, or potential scam, are encouraged to report such scams either by calling 311 in New York City or by entering such information online at: http://www.preventloanscams.org and clicking the button "Report a Scam!"

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The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2013 as we continue our quest of "Moving America Toward Justice." The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment; voting; education and environmental justice.  For more information about the LCCRUL, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

 

 

For over 160 years, the lawyers of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP have advised industry- leading companies and global financial institutions on their most challenging legal and business matters. The firm has a long and distinguished history of providing pro bono legal services to those who could not otherwise obtain legal representation and views pro bono work as a central responsibility of the firm and its lawyers. For more information: http://www.davispolk.com/pro-bono.