Suit Seeks To Block Murray From Charging Fees For Benefits From National Mortgage Settlement Intended To Be Free
CHARLES TOWN – November 2, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — In April, 49 state attorneys general finalized an historic $25 billion settlement with the five largest mortgage servicers, intended to end the abuses that drove tens of thousands of consumers into unjustified foreclosures. This national mortgage settlement also set aside $1.5 billion for direct payment to consumers who already lost their homes to foreclosure, including 5,222 West Virginia residents.
All benefits under the settlement are free; but some unscrupulous companies have sought to profit from the settlement by misleading consumers into thinking they must pay to obtain their checks. Today, Attorney General McGraw took action to stop one such company, Murray, LLP, from doing so.
Attorney General McGraw’s office sued Texas-based Murray and four individuals in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, asking the court to issue an injunction blocking Murray from taking 20% of consumers’ money as a fee for completing a simple claim form. The suit also seeks to block Murray from charging fees for other alleged services relating to wrongful foreclosures.
“This sort of conduct is unacceptable in West Virginia,” said McGraw. “It is my duty to enforce our consumer laws so that consumers, who have already lost their homes, are not victimized again by a group that charges for a service that was designed to be simple and free. Consumers should not be fooled into thinking anyone can advance their claim, because they can’t. Consumers with questions about the National Mortgage Settlement claim process are urged to call my Consumer Protection Hotline for more information. All of our services are free.”
McGraw’s suit explained that customized single page claim forms were sent out to 5,222 West Virginians who were already determined to be eligible for the expected payment of approximately $1,500 to $2,000. The forms were designed to be extremely simple and easy to complete. The deadline for claim submission is January 18, 2013. If consumers have questions they can call a toll free number for help.
The suit alleges that even before the first claim form was sent, the recently created “law firm” Murray LLP, registered in San Antonio, Texas, began marketing its services to foreclosure victims entitled to payment by offering to “push their claim forward” with the settlement administrator for 20% of the total payout. Using a sophisticated nationwide advertising scheme on cable television and its website, www.bringaclaim.com, Murray LLP markets its bogus services to unsuspecting claimants who are led to believe they are hiring a lawyer to file their claim and will gain an advantage in the claims process by doing so.
Attorney General McGraw said that more foreclosure complaints are received from the Eastern Panhandle than any other part of the state. To date, McGraw’s office has received more than 800 written complaints requesting help with their home loans as part of a “Save Our Homes” initiative launched earlier this year. Thus far, McGraw’s office has postponed over 180 foreclosure sales, allowing time for loan servicers to properly evaluate homeowners’ applications for loan assistance. Without General McGraw’s intervention, these homes would have been sold before the application review process was completed.
To contact the Attorney General’s Eastern Panhandle Office in Martinsburg directly, call 304-267-0239. To report a scam or consumer fraud or to file a complaint, West Virginians can reach the Attorney General’s Office by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-368-8808 or visiting wvago.gov online. For regular consumer news updates, follow “GWestV” on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Phone: (800) 368-8808