Nancy McCarthy of the California Bar Journal published an article warning consumers about the sudden wave of mass joinder marketing and the 1012-R mailers that are being sent out.
When Los Angeles lawyer Luis Rodriguez responded to a summons-like mailer [Form 1012-R] soliciting him to join other homeowners in a lawsuit against the Bank of America, he was told he qualified to be a plaintiff and had only to “donate” $6,000 to sign up. Rodriguez, a deputy public defender and member of the State Bar Board of Governors, was told the bank had misled consumers, but “high caliber” lawyers would handle the case. Be patient, he was told; these cases take a year or two to resolve. And, he was promised, he would receive some money.
The solicitation came to Rodriguez’s home and although he once had a BofA loan and had refinanced, the bank was no longer involved. But he apparently was a target of the latest marketing effort to attract homeowners who, unlike Rodriguez, are facing foreclosure. (Rodriguez did not join the suit.) The California Department of Real Estate issued a consumer alert last month warning mortgage holders to beware of such solicitations by lawsuit marketers who request upfront fees to file “mass joinder” or class action lawsuits with promises of extraordinary home mortgage relief.
The marketing materials variously claim a class action lawsuit may already have been filed and a homeowner can join as a plaintiff and can stop paying the lender, the lawsuit will help modify a home loan, or filing a lawsuit will stop the homeowner’s payment obligation and foreclosure. One Internet advertisement claims, ” . . at the very least, damages could be awarded that would reduce the principal balance of the note on your home to 80 percent of market value and give you a 2 percent interest rate for the life of the loan.”
The marketing materials “always seem to suggest with hyperbole that the result an individual homeowner can get is everything from a cash settlement to reduction in the loan or what they call an equity strip, which means they get the home free and clear,” said Wayne Bell, DRE chief counsel.
Such claims, he added, are “often overblown and exaggerated. But people are desperate for some kind of hope, and this gives them the hope.”
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