Friday, September 20, 2013

Charlotte foreclosure-help company barred, ordered to repay customers

A Charlotte company that charged homeowners upfront fees to help them avoid foreclosure has been ordered by a judge to repay customers and is banned from offering such services in North Carolina, Attorney General Roy Cooper said.

The announcement comes after Cooper filed suit in September against Community Mortgage Assistance Program. Under North Carolina law, it’s illegal to collect fees in advance for foreclosure assistance or loan-modification services. Cooper said Community Mortgage charged consumers as much as $1,500 in advance and claimed to have a 98 percent success rate in saving homes from foreclosure.

On Thursday, Cooper's office announced that Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner has approved consent judgments against Community Mortgage and Tidewater Financial, of Wilmington. The judgments were OK'd last week.

Community Mortgage and its owner, Koy Lynn Chiu, have been ordered to pay $4,000 in refunds, according to Cooper's office.

Tidewater also charged homeowners upfront fees for help in lowering mortgage payments, Cooper's office said. Tidewater and its owner, Elaine Madej, are barred from charging the upfront fees and must pay $8,200 in refunds, Cooper said.

Cooper said Community Mortgage and Tidewater not only charged the upfront fees, but also failed to give "meaningful help" to the clients.

Community Mortgage and Tidewater could not be reached for comment.

If the court orders are violated, the companies will face at least $30,000 in civil penalties, Cooper said.

Cooper said roughly 1,200 consumers have complained to his office over the past five years about schemes involving foreclosure assistance and loan modifications.