Attorney General Brian E. Frosh has announced a settlement with mortgage loan procurement and credit consulting providers Baltimore Home Ownership Program LLC and NowICanBuy LLC and Dwight Williams, the owner of the companies.
The defendants allegedly 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. They will pay $45,000 in restitution to consumers who paid them for credit improvement or mortgage loan assistance services before May 5, 2014.
They will also pay a $230,000 penalty if they do not fully comply with the settlement terms and will pay $5,000 in costs to the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Division.
“The process of buying a home can be overwhelming, but consumers shouldn’t have to fear being victimized,” Frosh said in a statement. “Our office and other state agencies, as well as reputable nonprofit organizations, offer resources to help Marylanders navigate the home-buying process.”
In one advertisement, Baltimore Home Ownership Program LLC told consumers the company would “absolutely get you approved for your very own home.”
However, the Consumer Protection Division of the attorney general’s office alleged many clients did not receive mortgage loan approvals through the company, which also allegedly collected retainer payments and other advance fees from its customers in violation of the Maryland Credit Services Business Act.
Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants are also banned from offering credit counseling or loan assistance services for at least two years. If they seek to resume business after two years, they must fully comply with licensing requirements and prohibition of advanced fees, as well as other provisions.