- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Obtains Court Order Against Lawrence Man Operating a Mortgage Scam
Boston — A Lawrence man has been ordered by a judge to stop engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and offering deceptive advice about mortgage loan modifications and bankruptcy to financially distressed homeowners, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The AG’s Office has obtained a preliminary injunction against Homayoun Maali in Essex Superior Court after filing a lawsuit against him. The lawsuit alleges that Maali charged consumers fees and promised to help them lower their mortgage payments or avoid foreclosure or eviction by preparing loan modification applications and filing bankruptcy petitions. In fact, when consumers followed Maali’s instructions, it often resulted in foreclosure or eviction proceedings instead of avoiding them.
“Consumers struggling to keep their homes were misled by this defendant with harmful legal advice and false promises that only made their situations worse,” said AG Healey. “This court order prohibits this man from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and preying on vulnerable people to make a profit.”
According to the AG’s complaint, Maali explicitly represented himself as qualified to help consumers file bankruptcy. Maali advised consumers to stop making car and mortgage payments while misrepresenting or omitting the consequences, filed bankruptcy petitions for consumers, and instructed consumers on what to say in court.
The complaint also alleges that Maali told consumers he could help them obtain loan modifications, but routinely failed to submit complete modification applications and then charged consumers to submit subsequent, additional applications. He also represented to consumers that he could help them avoid eviction and offered to act as a real estate broker. Maali charged consumers thousands of dollars for these services even though he is not licensed to perform them in Massachusetts.
The complaint further alleges that after consumers followed Maali’s advice and were faced with repossession, foreclosure or eviction, Maali charged additional fees for more services that still did not resolve the situation. Maali received tens of thousands of dollars in unfair and illegal fees from consumers and the AG’s Office is continuing to identify additional victims.
The AG’s Office alleges that Maali’s conduct violates the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act and the AG’s regulations relating to foreclosure rescue transactions and foreclosure-related services.
The preliminary injunction granted last week orders Maali to cease engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and using predatory practices against consumers and also prohibits him from destroying or altering any records.
The AG’s Office offers the following tips to consumers who are facing foreclosure or eviction:
- In most cases, a consumer who filed bankruptcy is required to continue making mortgage payments in order to avoid foreclosure. If you are considering bankruptcy, verify that anyone who has offered to help is a Massachusetts licensed attorney.
- It is illegal in Massachusetts for someone other than an attorney to ask for an advanced fee to help with a loan modification. If you are struggling to pay your mortgage, there are nonprofit housing counselors available in most communities, at no cost to you. You can find a counselor near you by calling 1-800-569-4287 or visiting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website.
- Never ignore calls or letters from creditors or court notices. Attend all court hearings even if you do not have an attorney because failing to attend a court date may cause you to waive important legal protections.
- Consumers who think they have been the victim of a scam or have questions or concerns about avoiding foreclosure or eviction can call the Attorney General’s consumer hotline at 617-727-8400 or file a complaint with the office.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Michael Lecaroz of the AG’s Consumer Protection Division, with assistance from Investigator Kristen Salera and Paralegal Sneha Pandya.