In a bit of a shocker a couple of names who were hot and heavy in the front-end of the mass joinder schemes have resurfaced again according to the State of Connecticut and the Attorney General of Florida.
On August 22, 2014 both parties filed an amended complaint against a whole chadre of individuals and companies. They included Berger Law Group, Ian Berger, Litigation Law, Gary Digirolamo, The Resolution Law Group, R. Geoffrey Broderick, The Resolution Law Center, David Friedman, Stephen R. Koplow, Onisak, Remarque Holdings, Phillip Kramer, Bill Goodman, Christopher Fox, Kit Wright.
This is a followup to the suit filed by the same parties on July 29, 2014. You can read that story, here.
The notable addition to the suit is Phillip Kramer who was one of the initial peddlers of mass joinder lawsuits along with now jailed attorney Mitchell Stein.
Kramer ran Kramer & Kaslow and is alleged to have had a hand in other firms as well. It now appears he got back in the game again but this time had to use a fake name.
The amended complaint makes some of the same statements as before and lays out why these mass joinder outfits selling mortgage relief to consumers were not only sketchy but illegal.
“In the midst of America’s foreclosure crisis, an illicit industry of mortgage modification scams began preying on desperate consumer homeowners facing foreclosure and the loss of their homes. Using deceptive advertising and telemarketing to recruit homeowners, scammers have made money by charging distressed homeowners upfront fees on the promise that they could obtain mortgage modifications for those homeowners, often providing little or no actual assistance to the homeowners.
To combat these practices, many states, including Florida and Connecticut, enacted laws to prohibit these schemes, and state regulators have enforced their unfair and deceptive trade practices laws, debt negotiation licensure requirements, and unauthorized practice of law prohibitions. In addition, federal regulators made it illegal in every state for mortgage assistance relief providers to charge homeowners a fee for mortgage modification services before actually obtaining mortgage modifications for those homeowners.
In a twist on the typical loan modification rescue scam designed to avoid regulatory scrutiny by creating the appearance of legitimacy, some veterans of such scams have shifted to selling homeowners’ participation in so-called “mass-joinder” lawsuits. Homeowners are led to believe that they will be represented by real law firms and that joining a mass-joinder lawsuit will help them avoid foreclosure, reduce their interest rates and loan balances, and entitle them to monetary compensation.”
The amended complaint goes on to say, “Organized and largely controlled by veterans of a similar mortgage relief scam, the RLG/BLG Enterprise falsely promises that the lawsuits will induce banks to give the consumers mortgage modifications or other forms of foreclosure relief. The Enterprise uses these promises to convince consumers to pay fees before the RLG/BLG Enterprise obtains, or even tries to obtain, mortgage modifications for the consumers it signs up.
In an attempt to circumvent state and federal consumer financial law and take advantage of regulatory exemptions for the practice of law, the RLG/BLG Enterprise holds itself out as a law firm and promises legal representation. However, it is not fundamentally different from any other loan modification scam, and its conduct is prohibited by both federal and state law.
The RLG/BLG Enterprise often initiates the scheme by sending misleading mailers that resemble class action notices to consumers notifying them that they are a potential plaintiff in a “national” lawsuit against their particular mortgage lender or servicer for “multiple claims of fraud and misrepresentation.” The mailers create a sense of urgency for consumers to enroll by a certain date or risk exclusion and induce consumers into believing that by “opting-in” they will receive a reduced interest rate, lower monthly payment, principal reduction, loan forgiveness, and monetary damages.”
You can read the entire amended complaint here.
The document provides more information about the Defendants.
It says this about Kramer, “Defendant Philip Kramer aka “William Goodman,” is an individual who, directly and through the RLG/BLG Enterprise, offers, provides, or arranges for others to provide mortgage assistance relief services, as defined in Regulation O, 12 C.F.R. § 1015.2.
Kramer is a disbarred attorney who resides in Calabasas, California. He materially participates in the conduct of the affairs of the RLG/BLG Enterprise, including development of its marketing and litigation strategies. He also directs employees of BLG and contract attorneys hired by BLG.
Kramer was the sole managing member of Defendant Onisak, LLC and Defendant Remarque Holdings, LLC. Kramer has profited from the RLG/BLG Enterprise through payments made by it to Onisak, LLC and Remarque Holdings, LLC.”
I last wrote about Christopher Fox when there was an arrest warrant out for him. But the amended complaint says this about Fox, “Defendant Christopher Wright Fox aka “Kit Wright,” is an individual who, directly and through the RLG/BLG Enterprise, offers, provides, or arranges for others to provide mortgage assistance relief services, as defined in Regulation O, 12 C.F.R. § 1015.2.
Defendant Fox is a California resident. He materially participates in the conduct of the affairs of the RLG/BLG Enterprise, including development of its marketing strategies and training of sales agents.”
The amended complaints says the old players in the Kramer & Kaslow debacle that was shut down by the State of California were the main players in the Berger Law Group and Resolution Law Group scheme.
“The operation of the RLG/BLG Enterprise is substantially controlled by Defendant DiGirolamo, Defendant Kramer, and Defendant Fox, who were at the center of a strikingly similar scam based in California. That scam was the subject of an enforcement action brought by the California Attorney General in August 2011. The complaint alleged that DiGirolamo oversaw the scam’s marketing and sales operations and that Kramer operated The Law Offices of Kramer and Kaslow, P.C., one of the scam’s law-firm fronts. The California action resulted in entry of a final judgment and permanent injunction against DiGirolamo and two companies that he controlled on June 5, 2013. The court also entered a final judgment and permanent injunction against Kramer and his law firm on September 30, 2013. DiGirolamo and Kramer were enjoined from, among other things, making misrepresentations to consumers regarding any proposed or actual lawsuit against lenders, including potential outcomes, benefits, or foreclosure relief that such lawsuits may provide.
As a direct result of Kramer’s lead role in the California mass-joinder scam, the State Bar Court of California disbarred Kramer on September 15, 2012.
Although not a named defendant in the California action, the court-appointed receiver identified Defendant Fox as having run one of Defendant DiGirolamo’s telemarketing boiler rooms and as having a close business relationship with DiGirolamo. The receiver’s report, which was filed on August 30, 2011, foreshadowed the RLG/BLG Enterprise by stating that Fox had been devoting himself to setting up a parallel operation in Florida.
Almost immediately after the commencement of the California action, DiGirolamo, Kramer and Fox took steps to establish a new mass-joinder operation, the RLG/BLG Enterprise, based in Florida and Nevada but with a virtual presence also in Connecticut, and eventually recruited Defendants Friedman, Broderick, Berger and Kopolow to assist with the scam.
By November 2011, the RLG/BLG Enterprise, through Broderick, had established a fake “virtual office” address for RLG, its Connecticut based, law-firm front. Although the RLG/BLG Enterprise has routinely used the 500 West Putnam Avenue, Suite 400, Greenwich, Connecticut, address on its mailers, website, emails, and other communications with consumers, it has no physical presence in Connecticut. In fact, Broderick resides in California and has never even visited the address of the virtual office in Connecticut.
In November 2011, the RLG/BLG Enterprise also established a website for RLG, largely using narrative content copied verbatim from the websites of large regional and national law firms.
By early 2012, the RLG/BLG Enterprise was conducting business from its real base of operations in Tampa, Florida, which handled intake, sales, collections, and other functions of the scam under the direction of Defendants DiGirolamo, Fox, Friedman and Berger.
In addition to the Tampa, Florida location, the Enterprise operated a telemarking boiler room in Las Vegas, Nevada run by Defendant Kopolow. Like the Tampa location, the Las Vegas call center was comprised of sales agents, with Kopolow overseeing their work.
Also based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, is the bookkeeper used by the Enterprise, an employee who is managed by Defendant DiGirolamo.
The California-based Defendants, DiGirolamo, Kramer, Fox and Broderick, oversaw the purchase of consumer data and approved the content of the Enterprise’s direct mail flyers, which were used to market the scam to distressed homeowners.
As the Enterprise amassed consumers, it started filing mass-joinder complaints, first in New York and subsequently in New Jersey.
Defendant Kramer, the disbarred attorney, assumed the alias, William “Bill” Goodman, and assisted Defendant DiGirolamo, a non-attorney, in directing the Enterprise’s paralegal and at least one case management attorney on the form and content of the mass-joinder complaints.
Beginning in mid-2013, the Enterprise began laying the groundwork for introducing BLG as a new front for the Enterprise. These preparations included creating a BLG Facebook page and BLG website (largely copied from the RLG website, including scattered vestigial references to RLG) in July 2013, and incorporating as a Florida corporation in August 2013.
In the fall of 2013, the Enterprise started routing consumer deposits to BLG bank accounts. Despite these accounts being held in the name of Defendant Berger on behalf of BLG, Berger ceded control of the accounts to Defendant DiGirolamo, who used Berger’s passwords to access the accounts online.
By January 2014, attorneys with BLG began entering notices of appearances in all cases originally filed by RLG.
In February 2014, Defendant Berger assumed financial responsibility for RLG’s virtual office in Connecticut.
In April 2014, Defendant Berger requested that all mail addressed to RLG’s virtual office in Connecticut be forwarded to “The Resolution Law Group: 4100 W. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 400, Tampa, Florida 33609” with a Connecticut phone number listed as the contact number.
These changes from RLG to BLG were described to consumers as “more or less administrative changes.”