Raleigh, NC – June 18, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — A Charlotte foreclosure rescue operation, which previously operated in Colfax, NC, is barred from collecting any money from consumers for foreclosure assistance or loan modifications, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Friday.
“Foreclosure assistance schemes rob North Carolina homeowners of hard-earned money that they could use to save their homes,” Cooper said. “My office will continue to go after outfits that violate the law by charging an upfront fee for their service.”
On Thursday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Cressie Thigpen agreed with Cooper’s request to temporarily bar Reginald Keith Turner, who did business as Hazelton Management and The Carley Group, from offering foreclosure and loan modification services. Cooper is seeking to shut down Turner’s foreclosure assistance business permanently and win consumer refunds and civil penalties.
As alleged in the complaint, Turner advertised that his company identified possible legal violations by the consumers’ mortgage lenders and used this to negotiate favorable loan modifications and “save homes from foreclosure.” However, Turner charged homeowners an up-front fee of as much as $2,500, told them not to contact their mortgage lenders, and then did little or nothing to help save their homes.
Under North Carolina law, it’s illegal to charge an advance fee for foreclosure assistance or loan modifications, a change Cooper fought for in 2005.
Affidavits from consumers filed with the complaint illustrate how Hazelton Management/Carley Group operated:
- A Guilford County school teacher’s husband became ill causing the couple to fall behind on their mortgage payments. The couple heard of Turner’s services and set up a meeting after Turner claimed he had a 100% success rate in loan modifications. The couple agreed to use Hazelton’s loan modification and “Regulation Z audit” services for a fee of $1450. They signed an authorization form and gave Turner copies of their pay stubs, tax returns, bank account information and Social Security numbers. They were also instructed to stop all communications with their mortgage company and to stop making monthly mortgage payments. The couple soon received a letter from their mortgage company saying that it would begin the foreclosure process if a payment was not received. They contacted Turner who said he would take care of it after the couple paid an upfront fee. The couple gave Turner a check for $995. They decided to contact a non-profit housing counselor who learned that Turner had not contacted their mortgage company. The couple was able to work with the housing counselor to modify their mortgage and save their home from foreclosure. The couple has not heard from Turner after requesting a refund of their $995.
- After being denied a loan modification by her mortgage company, a Mecklenburg County woman contacted Hazelton Management for help. Turner claimed that his company was different because they looked at consumers’ mortgage documents to uncover alleged fraud by mortgage companies. She was assured by Turner that he could get her loan modified with a lower interest rate and a lower monthly payment. After meeting with Turner, she agreed to use his services for a fee of $2500. After paying $900 upfront, Turner did nothing to stop the home from going into foreclosure. The woman’s house was foreclosed and she and her four children were evicted.
A total of 22 consumers have filed complaints about Hazelton Management/Carley Group with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.
If you suspect fraud by a foreclosure rescue company or if you have been charged upfront fees, call my Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-877-5-NOSCAM. North Carolina homeowners can also call a toll-free hotline set up by the NC Commissioner of Banks’ Office for free counseling on options to avoid foreclosure. The hotline, 1-866-234-4857, is available from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM Monday through Friday, and from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturdays.
“Free help is available to all North Carolina homeowners facing foreclosure,” Cooper said. “Before you waste your money on a foreclosure relief scam, call a non-profit housing counselor in your area.”