Fake law firms leave hundreds of victims behind
Mortgage repair scheme targeted 'Desperate Homeowners'
Hundreds of Florida residents hoping to save their homes from foreclosure were duped by a “string” of fake law firms led by a man who never earned a law degree according to investigators with the state attorney general’s office and Coral Gables Police Department.
Investigators told News 6 that police had already received 37 complaints linked to companies operated by Joseph Starr aka Joseph Hilton but that the number of clients caught in the alleged mortgage modification scam is closer to 400.
Joseph Anton Hilton, 56, and Adam Forman, 46, owned and operated The Asset Protection Law Firm, in Coral Gables, which offered residential loan modifications and debt consolidation to home owners in central Florida and across the state, authorities said.
Records show neither Hilton or Forman ever held a license to practice law .
Lisa Costanza, of Seminole County, told News 6 that she was told she would be able to get a 30 year fixed mortgage instead of an adjustable rate being offered by her lender.
Coral Gables Detective Jason DeLuca said Hilton has been operating in Coral Springs for the last three months.
Hilton admitted to police that he purchased lists that included names of Florida residents facing foreclosure .
Most of the business was conducted by a team of 14 by phone according to DeLuca.
Costanza who says she lost $1,000 to Hilton says she was called by someone who claimed the process would be easy.
“He says 'you don’t have to see me you don’t even have to come to court,'” she said.
Clients who signed up with Hilton’s legal team said they were promised a fast track to modifying their mortgage.
DeLuca said homeowners from Miami to Tallahassee fell for the scam and it's likely many don’t realize the company was a fake.
Victims of this mortgage modification scam are asked to contact -866-9NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at MyFloridaLegal.com
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