Some time ago, if you remember, I wrote about an interesting lawsuit that was filed by a firm out in California going after Countrywide-cum-BAC, alleging a variety of frauds.
Over the next many months a whole host of what came to be called "mass-joinder" promotions sprang up. I noted with some interest - and alarm - that a large number of domains were not only appearing, all looking an awful lot like some sort of multi-level marketing thing, but that many of them were referencing my original Ticker on the subject and using it was some sort of ersatz endorsement, despite the fact that none of the sites in question had contacted me and asked for permission to do so, nor for my present opinion on the matter.
There were also allegations as to who did or didn't represent various law firms and interests, including alleged "cease and desist" letters and postings.
When all of this became apparent the hair on the back of my neck went up and about that time I penned this article and "stickied" it in the Ticker area, in which I said in part:
Foreclosure-Related Scams: BEWARE
I'm getting rather tired of hearing about these sorts of scams, and they're sprouting like weeds.
So let's take a walk down the path of indicators that you're dealing with a scam, and not a legitimate effort to help you, when you see one of these companies and/or "offerings."
I went on to list not proof of a scam (that's tough) but rather some indications that you might be dealing with someone who is falsely claiming they're affiliated with something legitimate (and simply have your money stolen) or worse, some sort of complex scam that looks good but winds up costing you not only your house, but your money as well.
I also took the liberty of redirecting a few domains that linked into my Tickers - so that anyone coming from those domains would always get that warning page first - no matter what they had otherwise requested.
Over the last couple of months there have been a few warnings from various state offices related to unlicensed law firms and "mass joinder" suits and loan modification services. I reported on one of them at the time.
A few days ago the latest of what has been a handful of apparent spammers came into the forum and posted what could best be called a "weak tout" of these schemes. I blocked the account and emailed the person, asking for identification and their affiliation with these entities, stating that I would not restore the account or their post until they contacted me.
There was no reply.
Today I heard allegations of an apparent raid on at least one - and maybe more than one - of the law firms involved.
The phone number 818.224.3900 now has a voice message allegedly from the California Bar. A quick Google search appears to link this number to Kramer and Kaslow in multiple hits including a press release from February. If you were in any way doing business with these folks you ought to call that number and listen to the message.
Foreclosure fraud is a serious issue and so are all the other frauds that surrounded and permeated the housing bubble. I am beyond*****ed that we've seen zero prosecutorial interest in going after the big banks and others that promulgated these scams during the housing bubble.
But adding injury upon injury does nobody any good, and false hope is worse than none at all.
I have, since the beginning of this mess, counseled repeatedly that there are no magic bullets and if you are in a position where you cannot pay your mortgage, or decide not to pay your mortgage, you need competent legal and tax advice to determine the proper course of action, including the risks and costs involved in each of your possible actions.
In some cases the proper action is a strategic default. In others it is a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure. Some cases are best dealt with in bankruptcy. In still others there may be legal recourse available to you for either fraudulent origination or attempted foreclosure. None of this can take place on the Internet, in some chat room or via some solicitation by someone promising you a "free house", no matter how the claim is couched.
Lawsuits are expensive, they take time, and there are no guarantees - ever - when you step into a courtroom. You can be right and lose, and be wrong and win. That's the way it is. You're dealing with people, and people are fallible. The law is allegedly clear, but to prevail you need not only the law on your side you need to have a jurist who will listen to your arguments, which must be correctly framed, and he must apply the law as written. That's a lot of "ifs" and you're going to pay for each and every one of them.
It's easy to get sucked into the promise of a quick fix and the promised land, but the real world, especially in court, doesn't work this way. It never has, and it never will. That's why the wise man, when he has a bona-fide legal question, engages competent counsel and listens to the advice given.
If you've been caught up in this mess and decide to pursue the matter further, please engage competent legal representation and check whoever you intend to use out through multiple sources, including checking with the Bar for complaints and asking for references.
As more information becomes available I will update as appropriate; as always in the context of the Ticker, I'm a reporter and a writer with an opinion, not a lawyer.
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