Inflated claims about Illinois mortgage rescue scam enforcement

A hat tip to the Mortgage Fraud Blog for alerting us to a news release last month from Attorney General Lisa Madigan:

Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced the arrest of a Chicago man who stole more than $350,000 in a wide-reaching mortgage fraud scheme in which they promised to help desperate homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Madigan said defendant Warren Jackson, 41, of Chicago, was arrested late Thursday and is being held in Cook County jail. Yolanda King, 46, of Chicago, who was also charged in the scheme, was arrested on Jan. 10. Both were formally indicted earlier this month.

Jackson was charged with one count of organizing a continuing financial crimes enterprise, four counts of financial institution fraud and three counts of theft by deception, one count of criminal mortgage rescue fraud, one count of forgery by delivery, and one count of false impersonation of an attorney. King was charged with two counts of financial institution fraud and one count of forgery by delivery.

“These financial predators targeted desperate homeowners and made claims that they would save people’s homes, but their action amounted to crimes,” Madigan said. “When homeowners engage with con artists as opposed to legitimate housing counselors, it puts borrowers one step closer to foreclosure.”

What caught our eye in the news release was this:

Attorney General Madigan has aggressively targeted mortgage-rescue scams as they have risen dramatically in the wake of the national housing crisis. Today’s arrests mark the first criminal charges brought by the Attorney General in a mortgage-rescue case. Madigan has previously established Illinois as the most aggressive state in the nation to combat this scheme, filing 50 civil lawsuits, which have so far resulted in 28 injunctions against scam operations and the courts’ ordering defendants to pay back $2 million to affected homeowners. Madigan has also issued 622 cease-and-desist letters ordering rescue operations to stop illegally charging homeowners upfront payments for rescue services.

The most aggressive state in the nation to combat this scheme? Really? Deep into this crisis, the first criminal actions? Really?

If you follow published news reports from around the nation about enforcement efforts against mortgage rescue scammers, you rarely see Illinois on the radar. The Prevent Loan Scams site, which has not been fully updated for almost a year, provides enough links to make it clear that our AG’s claims are inflated, at best.

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