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LMSPN Files Lawsuit against "Elaborate Network" of NY Scam Companies

For more information contact: 
Stacie B. Royster, Director of Communications
202-662-8317, office
sroyster@lawyerscommittee.org

NEW YORK HOMEOWNERS FIGHT BACK AGAINST LOAN MODIFICATION SCAM CONSPIRACY 

LAWSUIT FILED AS FIRST STEP IN STATEWIDE LEGAL CAMPAIGN TO TARGET THOSE WHO PREY ON VICTIMS OF NEW YORK'S HOME FORECLOSURE CRISIS

NEW YORK, NY - The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers' Committee) and pro bono counsel Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Davis Polk) filed a lawsuit today on behalf of local homeowners who were scammed by for-profit loan modification companies.  Today's complaint - which targets a wide-ranging conspiracy to defraud vulnerable homeowners - marks the beginning of a statewide legal campaign to pursue those who exploit New Yorkers affected by the financial crisis. 

A "loan modification scam" operates based on a simple scheme:  someone posing as a loan "specialist" tricks a homeowner into believing he or she possesses specialized knowledge or skills necessary to lower the homeowner's monthly mortgage payments.  The "specialist" typically takes an upfront fee, encourages the homeowner to stop making monthly loan payments, and then fails to perform even the most basic services for months, if at all.  Homeowners soon find themselves in financial turmoil: not only conned out of thousands of dollars, but also facing damaged credit scores, crippling bank fees and penalties, and most seriously, the prospect of losing their homes.

"These for-profit loan modification companies are making a bad situation worse," said Lawyers' Committee Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy Director Jon Greenbaum.  "Vulnerable homeowners come in contact with someone posing as an expert and offering to help them negotiate better mortgage terms.  Little do they know it's a scam.  We hope that this lawsuit will not only help victims recover their losses, but also will serve as a deterrent against future scams." 

The suit, filed in Nassau County as Rush v. Save My Home, aims to permanently enjoin the deceptive practices of an "elaborate network" of companies that cheated homeowners through these scams.  The primary target is a group of closely related entities that operate in Garden City, mostly out of a single building complex at 591 and 595 Stewart Avenue.  The many names used by these scammers over the course of their operations include "Save My Home," "Save My Home Now," "Selig Law Group," "Express Modifications, Inc.," "Express Debt Solutions," "Express Home Solutions," "Express Home 411," "Empire Home Saver, Inc.," and "Empire Home Savings." 

Eunice Hyon Min Rho of the Lawyers' Committee and Daniel F. Kolb, Andrew J. Bruck, Sagar Ravi, Virginia A. Farmer, and Vesna Cuk (not yet admitted) of Davis Polk are counsel in Rush v. Save My Home.

In addition to today's lawsuit, the Lawyers' Committee and Erik Paulsen, Noah Solowiejczyk, Jayme Feldheim, and Connor Kuratek (not yet admitted) of Davis Polk are assisting other victims on an individual basis who have been scammed by for-profit loan modification companies.  This assistance, provided free of charge, includes drafting demand letters to the alleged scammers, filing individual actions, and representing victims who have already begun their own legal proceedings across New York City and Long Island.  Those lending valuable support to these efforts include the City Bar Justice Center, The Legal Aid Society of New York, Legal Services NYC, Nassau/Suffolk Legal Services and the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP).

This dynamic approach to providing relief to those affected is an important initiative of the Lawyers' Committee in its capacity as one of the leaders of the Loan Modification Scam Prevention Network (LMSPN).  LMSPN also includes representatives from key governmental agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 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 LMSPN database in February 2010, more than 10,000 homeowners have reported scams or potential scams, totaling over $27 million in lost money.  Of those, over 500 complaints come from New York State residents, with reported losses of over $2 million.

Homeowners who believe they have been the victim of a scam are encouraged to call either 311 in New York City or 888-995-HOPE (4673) or visit www.preventloanscams.org and click the link "Report a Scam!"  Those who would like to report a complaint against the entities named in Rush v. Save My Home should emailscam.intake@davispolk.com.  The Lawyers' Committee and Davis Polk are representing victims free of charge. 

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The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 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. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law.

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 also 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 at its lawyers. For more information: http://www.davispolk.com/pro-bono.