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Like the Emperor With No Clothes, Fake Law Firms Prey on Desperate Homeowners

Tue Aug 23, 2016 by on Florida Law News

attorney general, foreclosure fraud

The AG sues a network of non-lawyers who pose as lawyers and law firms providing legal foreclosure defense and loan modification services, for the purpose of deceiving desperate homeowners into paying the fake lawyers instead of their mortgages.

The following article was originally written by Samantha Joseph in the Daily Business Review on August 19, 2016 with excerpts by Roy Oppenheim, Oppenheim Law

The group of South Florida companies offering foreclosure defense work seemed legitimate on the surface.  They claimed to be a network of 100 attorneys, used the word “law” in their company names, described themselves as consumer advocates and promised vigorous representation for homeowners on the brink of foreclosure.

But a new lawsuit by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi paints a different picture, alleging the companies and their principals posed as lawyers to prey on vulnerable clients, and duped young attorneys into serving as front men for fraudulent operations.

None of the defendants are licensed to practice law in Florida, but prosecutors say they used the names of legitimate attorneys on corporate documents and filings.

Reflecting on the Attorney General’s allegations, prominent foreclosure defense lawyer Roy Oppenheim on Weston’s Oppenheim Law expressed shock at “temerity, the gall” of the defendants.

“Am I glad the attorney general is doing this? Yes. Should they have done it earlier? Yes,” said Oppenheim, who’s not involved in the Attorney General’s litigation. “The housing crisis is almost over.  These people have made a ton of money.” 

Oppenheim pointed out what he considers red flags in the defendant companies’ marketing material:  no third-party vetting sources, no judicial records to show victories or dismissals on clients’ behalf, and language that suggests an unfamiliarity with the nuances of the legal industry.

He also cited allegations about the defendants’ use of aggressive web-based marketing strategies to generate leads and then recruit attorneys willing to work for a fraction of the legal fees.

‘This Hurts Guys Like Us’

“Unfortunately, there aren’t enough jobs for lawyers, so you have attorneys going through these clearing houses that pretend to be law firms.  It’s an unholy alliance,” Oppenheim said.  “This hits very close to home for us. We were one of the first firms doing foreclosure defense work, and these guys hurt people like me.”

The following article was originally published in the Daily Business Review (DBR)  by Samantha Joseph at sjoseph@alm.com. On Twitter: @SJosephWritermView original article

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Tags: AG, American Bar Association, Attorney General, fake lawyers, Foreclosure Defense, Loan Modification