Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

Consumer Alert:
Prime Legal Plans LLC

February 4, 2013

Mortgage Relief Scam

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) received a complaint from a Washington consumer who indicated he had paid a $3,000 retainer fee to a Prime Legal Plans as an intermediary for a law firm out of Detroit, Michigan identified as the Litvin Law Firm.

The Washington consumer indicated that he believed he had contracted and paid a retainer for loan modification services with an entity by the name of Litvin Law Firm, but after 5-6 months the attorneys for the firm withdrew from his case and the law firm is no longer response to his attempts to communicate.

Federal Trade Commission Lawsuit

The following information is provided by Prime Access Management regarding the FTC lawsuit against Prime Legal Plans:

On Monday, September 24th, 2012, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida (the "Federal Court"), entered a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which prohibits Prime Legal Plans LLC, together with its related entities, and the individuals who control and/or work for Prime Legal Plans LLC (collectively "Prime") from contacting homeowners and seeking to or collecting any monies from consumers for mortgage assistance relief related services.

On Thursday, September 27th, 2012, the TRO was served and effected upon Prime by the Federal Trade Commission (the "FTC"), who filed the lawsuit that led to entry of the TRO, and the court-appointed receiver, Charles H. Lichtman, Esq., (the Receiver), who shut down Prime and took control of its property and assets. Among other things, the TRO requires the Receiver to preserve all of Prime’s computer data, documents, or other records related to Prime’s business practices that are the subject of the TRO.

On October 12, 2012, the TRO was converted into a Preliminary Injunction and Order Continuing Asset Freeze and Other Provisions of the TRO, and Appointing a Permanent Receiver (the "Preliminary Injunction"). The Receiver has also been charged with protecting the interests of the consumers by investigating matters related to the receivership defendants and potentially bringing lawsuits to recover money for the benefit of any victimized consumer. This process is underway, and we encourage all consumers to periodically check trusteeservices.biz/PLP/PLPhome.html for information and further, to contact us with any information if they feel they have been treated improperly by any receivership defendant, person or related party. The legal entities placed under the Receiver’s control include: Prime Legal Plans LLC.

Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has provided the following information regarding Prime Legal Plans on its website at www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/10/phonymortgage.shtm:

Prime Legal Plans/Reaching U Network: The FTC alleged that from at least mid-2010, the defendants behind this scheme marketed mortgage relief services in English and Spanish, including under the names "Reaching U Network," and "American Legal Plans." They allegedly told consumers who were in debt that attorneys would review their mortgage loan documents to see if their lenders complied with state and federal mortgage laws, and would use the resulting "forensic audit" information to help save their homes and negotiate more favorable mortgage terms. The defendants told consumers that "80 percent of mortgages contain some fraud," and "Our network attorneys have helped hundreds of Americans stay in their homes," according to the FTC complaint.

But instead of helping consumers, the defendants charged them up to $750 a month, while little or nothing was done to save their homes from foreclosure, and running an operation that a court found was "permeated with illegal practices" , according to the FTC.

The FTC alleged that on company websites, the defendants would falsely claim to be a "private charity working for struggling consumers that can’t afford legal representation." When responding to consumers who called the toll-free number on the websites, and when cold-calling consumers, including those listed on the Do Not Call registry, the defendants routinely failed to provide the disclosures required by the MARS Rule, collected up-front fees, and misrepresented the results that consumers could expect, according to the complaint. The FTC charged that the defendants violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule, the FTC Act, and the MARS Rule by: calling consumers whose numbers were listed on the Do Not Call Registry; not paying the required annual fee to access the Registry; misrepresenting that they would get mortgage modifications to make consumers’ payments significantly more affordable and help prevent foreclosure, and that they would use so-called forensic audits to do this; misrepresenting the amount of time it would take to get results; failing to provide required disclosures about mortgage modification relief; and collecting advance fees.

A federal judge granted the FTC’s request for a temporary restraining order and ordered a freeze of the defendants’ assets and the appointment of a receiver.

Verify Licenses

DFI strongly recommends that consumers deal only with those lenders that are properly licensed to conduct business. Consumers can determine whether lenders are properly licensed using the "Verify a License" feature on DFI's website at www.dfi.wa.gov.

Report Fraud

If you are suspicious of unlicensed activity by a mortgage broker, consumer lender, money transmitter, or escrow agent; contact the Department of Financial Institutions at 1-877-RING-DFI (746-4334), or online at www.dfi.wa.gov.

If you feel you have been the victim of a loan scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357), or online at www.ftc.gov.

If you feel you have been the victim of a scam involving the Internet, contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

If you feel you have been the victim of a scam and are concerned about your personal financial information, contact your banking institution and the three major credit bureaus.

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