Smug GOP Congressman Falsely Implies CFPB Paid Law Firm It Actually Charged with Fraud

During today’s House Financial Services Committee hearing featuring Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) smugly displayed a stunning lack of knowledge about the CFPB’s work and results when he appeared to press Cordray to explain why the CFPB gave millions of dollars to Hoffman Law Group.

In reality, the CFPB partnered with Florida’s Attorney General–a Republican–in 2014 to file a lawsuit against the Hoffman Law Group for “charging homeowners thousands of dollars in upfront fees to join mass-litigation lawsuits.” The firm was alleged to have been part of a “nationwide mortgage rescue scheme that bilked homeowners out of more than $5 million.” In 2015, a federal judge “entered a $27.7 million judgment against the firm and four affiliated companies that operated a foreclosure relief scam.”

  • In 2014, the CFPB and Pam Bondi, Florida’s Republican attorney general, filed a lawsuit against the Hoffman Law Group for “charging homeowners thousands of dollars in upfront fees to join mass-litigation lawsuits.” The firm was alleged to have been part of a “nationwide mortgage rescue scheme that bilked homeowners out of more than $5 million.” In 2015, a federal judge “entered a $27.7 million judgment against the firm and four affiliated companies that operated a foreclosure relief scam.” [Kimberly Miller,  “Hoffman Law Group Misled Hundreds of Homeowners, Complaint Says,” Palm Beach (FL) Post, July 24, 2014; and Susan Salisbury, “Judgment Issued in Home Loan Scam,” Palm Beach (FL) Post, May 30, 2015.]
  • The “eight-count complaint,” No. 14-CV-80931, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, West Palm Beach Division. The Hoffman Law Group is a “North Palm Beach law firm.”  Prior to this legal action, “the Hoffman Law Group had been given cease and desist orders by New Mexico and Idaho.” [Kimberly Miller,  “Hoffman Law Group Misled Hundreds of Homeowners, Complaint Says,” Palm Beach (FL) Post, July 24, 2014.]
  • “Michael Harper, 34, of North Palm Beach” was named as a defendant in the suit and was accused of operating the scam. He was subject to “a temporary restraining order, asset freeze, and preliminary injunction” within the lawsuit.  The lawsuit also named “Benn Willcox, 34, of Jupiter, the Residential Litigation Group, Nationwide Management Solutions, Legal Intake Solutions, File Intake Solutions, and BM Marketing Group.” [Kimberly Miller, “Hoffman Law Group Misled Hundreds of Homeowners, Complaint Says,” Palm Beach (FL) Post, July 24, 2014.]
  • The firm was accused of duping “an estimated 1,200 homeowners since 2012.” The complaint included “charges of taking upfront fees for mortgage-relief services, misleading consumers about services and theft.” Victims of the scam “paid a $6,000 retainer and $495 per month.”  The final judgement issued in 2015 “found the corporate defendants liable for more than $11.7 million.”  The defendants were ordered to pay an additional “$10 million civil penalty for violating Regulation O, formerly known as the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services rule, and a $6 million penalty for violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.” [Kimberly Miller, “Hoffman Law Group Misled Hundreds of Homeowners, Complaint Says,”  Palm Beach (FL) Post, July 24, 2014; and Susan Salisbury, “Judgment Issued in Home Loan Scam,” Palm Beach (FL) Post, May 30, 2015.]

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