The lawsuit accuses Core Advisory Group LLC and its operator, Trung (“Mike”) Luong of Newport Beach, of violating Ohio consumer protection laws.
“When people are worried about their mortgage, they’re focused on doing what they need to do to keep their home,” DeWine said. “Unfortunately, there are some operators who take advantage of them. They make false promises and they take the person’s money without providing any real help, which is what we found in this case.”
According to the lawsuit, Core Advisory Group offers mortgage relief services for a fee, often ranging between $1,745 and $3,900. It advertises online and through the mail. The mail solicitation provides a phone number, but not the business’s name, and it tells consumers they may be eligible for a program to lower their mortgage payments. When consumers respond, the firm allegedly offers a two-phase program of filing complaints for consumers with government agencies (apparently to draw more attention from the consumer’s mortgage servicer) and then working on the “reinstatement and restructuring” of a consumer’s loan.
An investigation by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section determined that these representations often were not true and that Core Advisory Group failed to provide services it had agreed to provide.
In the lawsuit, filed in the Richland County Common Pleas Court, DeWine seeks reimbursement for affected consumers and an end to any violations of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act.
Consumers who are worried about foreclosure or who want to modify their mortgage loans should be wary of services that:
• Charge upfront fees
• Promise help that sounds too good to be true
• Charge fees for filing complaints with government agencies (which is free to do)
• Use high-pressure tactics
• Say they can help regardless of your financial situation
• Tell you not to contact your lender or the court
• Tell you not to make your mortgage payment
• Brag that they are faster than nonprofit counseling agencies
• Give you a lengthy agreement to sign before they will help
Consumers who suspect a scam should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.