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Maryland AG Frosh Settles Mortgage Credit Counseling Case

June 22nd, 2015 by WCBC Radio

Attorney General Brian E. Frosh today announced a settlement with mortgage loan procurement and credit consulting providers Baltimore Home Ownership Program, LLC (BHOP), and NowICanBuy, LLC, and their owner, Dwight Williams.

The settlement, reached by the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Division, resolves allegations that the defendants offered mortgage and credit repair consulting services without the required license, collected illegal advance fees and made false representations about the nature of their services and their success.

In one advertisement, BHOP solicited consumers by stating, “Once we determine your eligibility for our program, we will absolutely get you approved for your very own home.” The Division alleged that many clients did not receive mortgage loan approvals through BHOP, which also allegedly collected retainer payments and other advance fees from its customers, in violation of the Maryland Credit Services Business Act.

“The process of buying a home can be overwhelming, but consumers shouldn’t have to fear being victimized,” said Attorney General Frosh. “Our office and other state agencies, as well as reputable nonprofit organizations, offer resources to help Marylanders navigate the home-buying process.”

The settlement requires the defendants to pay $45,000 in restitution to consumers who paid for credit improvement and/or mortgage loan assistance services prior to May 5, 2014. The defendants must also pay a penalty of $230,000 (which will be waived if the defendants fully comply with the terms of the settlement) and pay $5,000 in costs to the Consumer Protection Division.

The defendants are also banned from offering any credit counseling or loan assistance services for at least two years, and, if they seek to resume business thereafter, must fully comply with licensing requirements, advanced fee prohibition, and other provisions. The defendants may not, for example, circumvent the Maryland Credit Services Business Act by charging consumers on an installment-type basis.

Marylanders seeking more information about the settlement should call the Consumer Protection Division hotline at 410-528-8662 or 888-743-0023.

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