INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – (RealEstateRama) — Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced today that 29 victims of real estate scams and foreclosure-relief fraud are receiving payments from the state’s Consumer Protection Assistance Fund (CPAF).
This week, March 6-12, is National Consumer Protection Week.
Zoeller, whose office administers the fund, said these victims will receive more than $70,000 in total payments with each person receiving an amount equal to their loss up to the statutory cap of $3,000. Victims are from Elkhart, Hancock, Lake, LaPorte, Marion, Monroe, Scott and St. Joseph counties.
“When lawsuits against scam artists end in default judgement, it is very difficult to recover victims’ losses,” Zoeller said. “The CPAF helps direct money my office does receive for violations of Indiana’s consumer protection laws, to assist victims who’ve been left in the lurch. Real estate and foreclosure scams can be particularly devastating because they often involve large amounts of money, and the victims tend to already be in a tough financial spot.”
Zoeller said Hoosiers currently receiving relief are victims of several different scams targeting property owners. More than half of the CPAF recipients are victims of an Indianapolis-area real estate scheme perpetrated by TMJ Foundations, Inc., in which the company sold properties it did not own, leaving victims out thousands of dollars and no claim to the properties they thought they purchased.
The AG’s Office filed a lawsuit against this company in June 2014 and subsequently received a default judgment, in which the company was ordered to pay victims $96K in restitution, but it never did.
Now, Zoeller said, the 16 victims involved in this case will see some relief. The AG’s Office will continue to pursue recovery efforts in the TMJ Foundations case, which, if received, will be deposited into the CPAF.
Zoeller said this type of case is why the Indiana General Assembly created the CPAF in 2011, in order to help vulnerable Hoosiers who are victimized by scam artists but unable to recover their losses through legal action. Since the program began, the AG’s Office has paid out nearly $1.4 million to Hoosier victims through the fund.
Other individuals currently receiving CPAF payments are victims of foreclosure-relief fraud, which targets homeowners who are late on their mortgage payments or are already in foreclosure. Foreclosure-relief scammers charge customers large upfront fees in exchange for assistance in reducing monthly payments or stopping foreclosure. Most often, desperate homeowners pay the fees and don’t receive the promised services or a refund. Zoeller urged Hoosiers who are behind in their mortgage payments and facing foreclosure to seek free legal help from Indiana Legal Services, which recently received a grant from the AG’s Office to support foreclosure prevention counseling.
Additionally, homeowners can contact the Indiana Foreclosure Prevention Network (IFPN) at 1-877-GET-HOPE to see if they qualify to receive mortgage payment assistance from Indiana’s Hardest Hit Fund. This state program offers foreclosure assistance at no charge.
Zoeller said homeowners should be on guard against scam artists who ask for a fee in exchange for a counseling service or modification of a delinquent loan.
If you believe you are a victim of foreclosure-relief fraud, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 800-382-5516.
Name: Molly Gillaspie
Email: molly.gillaspie (at) atg.in (dot) gov